Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Taste of Darkness International Covers!!

Yes! Fist Pump! I have received the cover art for both the Australian/New Zealand edition and the United Kingdom edition. And I have information about release dates.  If you're a subscriber to my free email newsletter, you would already have seen these beauties ;> but I also wanted to post on my blog.

So??  What do you think??  I think they're all GORGEOUS! 

Which one is your favorite?  Post your vote on my blog by November 6th for a chance to win an early copy of TASTE OF DARKNESS - please leave an email address so I can contact you (Goodreads friends - no need for your addy).  This giveaway is open to ALL and I'll pick 3 winners! Just so you know, it might be a few weeks before I get my copies of the book - but you'll have it by the end of November for sure!

Australian / New Zealand edition
Release date: December 16, 2013

United Kingdom edition
Release date: January 3, 2014
USA / Canada edition
Release date: December 31, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Darkbeast Rebellion Author Interview + Give Away

So you all know by now that Mindy Klasky/Morgan Keyes is a friend of mine. And she's a wonderful writer - her stories are smart, snarky, fun, and entertaining.  Once again I've invited her to my blog to talk about her latest book, DARKBEAST REBELLION, the second book in her Darkbeast series.  I interviewed her last year about DARKBEAST you can read it here:

For this interview, Mindy/Morgan has generously offered to send TWO commenters a paperback copy of DARKBEAST and a hardback copy of DARKBEAST REBELLION - two books for one comment! To enter, leave a comment by October 20th, 2013 and please include an email address so I can contact you. (Goodreads friends don't need to leave an email addy).  The give away is open to USA residents only.

Cover copy:
Keara, her friend Goran, and the wily old actor, Taggart, are fleeing for their lives. They have all spared their darkbeasts, the creatures that take on their darker deeds and emotions and lift their spirits. But their actions defy the law, which dictates that all citizens must kill their darkbeasts on their twelfth birthdays.

There are rumors of safe havens, groups of people called Darkers who spared their darkbeasts and live outside the law. To find the Darkers, the trio must embark on a dangerous journey—and evade the Inquisitors who are searching for them everywhere. In the middle of winter, freezing and exhausted, Keara and her companions are taken to an underground encampment that seems the answer to all their hopes. But are these Darkers really what they appear to be?

Q&A with Mindy/Morgan Keyes:

1. DARKBEAST REBELLION is the second book in the Darkbeast series.  What's in store for Keara and her companions?

In DARKBEAST REBELLION, Keara begins to realize that the world is a much larger and more complicated place than she ever knew before.  Her initial decision to save her best friend (her darkbeast Caw) leads her on a search for allies against the secular government and the religious hierarchy of her land.  Along the way, she meets new friends – and a few people who might turn out to be enemies.

2. Do you find writing a second book in a series to be harder than the first or easier?

Um, both?  A second book is harder than a first because there are restrictions on the story I can tell – I can't go back and say, "Oh, yeah, everyone has the ability to read minds, I just forgot to tell you that in the first book."

But a second book is easier, because of those very restrictions.  I no longer need to figure out who the Twelve Gods of Duodecia are.  And I don't have to work out the details of the map and the calendar and all those other fiddly bits of worldbuilding.  (That assumes, of course, that I keep good notes J )

3. You used a pseudonym for these books. Has it been difficult keeping your two identities separate?

I'm becoming more and more accustomed to being "Morgan Keyes".  I recently signed several cases of books at Books of Wonder (the amazing children's bookstore in New York City), and I didn't start to write the wrong name once!

I just hosted the book launch for DARKBEAST REBELLION, at the great local-to-me children's bookstore Hooray for Books.  I invited two other authors to join me for the launch – Catherine Jinks and Jonathan Auxier.  At the end of the event, which was attended by many of my friends, in addition to general bookstore patrons, Jonathan came up to me and asked, "What are those people calling you?"  That's when I realized I answered equally well to Morgan and to Mindy!

(Morgan actually keeps a much lower profile than Mindy, because the majority of Morgan's readers are too young to be on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.)

4. Over the course of your career, you've written dark fantasy, chick lit, humor, romance, and middle-grade novels. Do you have a favorite?  And what genre are you going to tackle next?

My favorite is actually "whatever I'm writing at the time."  I adore the detailed worldbuilding of books like the Darkbeast Series, where I get to sort through the causes and effects of entire social structures.  I enjoy the lyrical prose and the search for specific words, almost as if I were writing poetry.

At other times, I truly enjoy trying to be bright and contemporary and sassy and funny, with my light paranormals like the Jane Madison Academy Series.  I love putting my characters into absurd situations and watching them squirm as they try to figure their way out.

Right now, I'm working on a series of very spicy short novels, all romances built around the imaginary Raleigh Rockets baseball team.  I'm having a great time writing from both the hero and the heroine's point of view, especially when I can show them misunderstanding each other because of essential gender differences.

5. What has been the best thing about writing for younger readers?  Have you done any school visits?

My favorite part of writing for younger readers is meeting those readers.  Sometimes, that happens by mail (traditional handwritten letters or email), and sometimes that happens in person.  When I was in school, I loved talking to authors who visited, and I can still remember some of those conversations, word for word.  I hope that I can bring similar memories to budding writers today.

I've gone on many school visits, but I'm always up for more!  My visits have varied from spending an entire day, meeting with all six classes of seventh-grade English (and repeating myself a lot during the day!) to a single assembly where all the kids in two grades are brought into an all-purpose room to hear me speak.  One of my favorite visits was to a third-grade class, where the kids were having a Reader Leader party, celebrating their collectively reading 100,000 minutes since the beginning of the school year.

6. You've also done a mix of traditional publishing and self-publishing.  Do you find that you're reaching a wider audience this way?

While traditional publishing and self publishing form two bright lines for writers, most readers don't really care how their books get to market.  I try to use each system to maximize the audience for particular types of books.

For example, most kids still read books on paper, and many of them get those books from their school libraries.  Therefore, it makes sense for the Darkbeast Series to be published traditionally, where print books make their way to a vast variety of bookstores and libraries.

By contrast, many adults read electronic books, especially romance readers.  Therefore, it makes sense for my Jane Madison Academy series to be published electronically through self-publishing.

One of the great advantages for self-publishing is that I can experiment with reaching out to different audiences.  For example, I've joined up with five other authors who have books similar to my GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT, and we've put all six of our books on sale as SIX TIMES A CHARM – six novels for less than a dollar []. We've sold thousands of copies in the past few weeks, many of which were bought by people who'd never heard of me (but had heard of my co-authors.)  I hope to meet a whole new group of readers through this limited time offer.

7. Despite the method of publication, the lion's share of promotion has always been on the author. What have you found to be the best way to spread the word about your books?

I've always loved meeting readers in person –- at bookstore readings and conventions and literary book festivals.  But the sad fact is that those events are expensive to travel to, and relatively few people can attend any one event.

Therefore, I've really pushed to build online communities.  I post several times most days to my Facebook page – blog posts where I ruminate about a wide range of topics, quick status reports where I make comments about the world around me, and desperate questions where I ask my Facebook friends to help me with writing problems, like naming characters, figuring out the comfort food a character eats, or the design of a character's engagement ring.

8. Let's dish about traveling! You, like me, love to travel and have recently gone to Italy.  Do your travel adventures play a role in your fiction?

I do love too travel, and I keep electronic diaries while I'm on the road, complete with a lot of photographs.  I rarely take a trip wholesale and drop it into a novel (it'll be a long time before anyone reads "Jane Madison Goes to Rome"), but I always pluck details from my trips and use them in modified ways.

For example, when I was in Italy, I took a day to go to Ostia, the ruins of the ancient Roman port.  Those ruins include a series of shops, where each of the rooms has a tiled floor, illustrating what was sold in that shop (amphorae filled with olive oil, fish, bread, etc.)  Those ruined shops became a key setting for important events in DARKBEAST REBELLION!

9. You've been researching baseball for a series of novellas.  How much time did you spend doing the research?  Are you a baseball fan?  If so, who's your favorite team? 

"Doing research" sounds so glamorous, doesn't it?  In this case, my research consisted of pulling on my Washington Nationals T-shirt and heading down to Nationals Park – 20 times in the past season.

I never watched baseball while I was growing up, and I definitely never played the game (or softball.)  But I married a lifelong Red Sox fan, and I quickly started to learn about the sport because it was on nearly every night, from March until October.  In between knitting and quilting projects, I discovered that I actually enjoyed watching the game – a truth revealed to me when I was on a business trip and actually went out of my way to buy a local newspaper and look up box scores from the night before!

The Nationals are my favorite National League team, and the Red Sox are my favorite American League team.  When they ultimately meet in the World Series, I'll be a happy fan, because one of my favorite teams will win!

10. Will there be a third book in the Darkbeast series?  How many books are planned?

I have several more stories that I want to tell about Keara, Caw, and their friends.  At the moment, though, I don't have a contract for those books.  (The more copies of DARKBEAST REBELLION that sell, though, the more likely I am to line up that contract in the next couple of months!)

Thank you so much, Maria, for allowing me to visit! [You're welcome anytime!]
Links to Mindy/Morgan:
Morgan Keyes website:
Mindy Klasky website:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Selling Ur Soul - Interview and Giveaway!

Would you sell your soul to the devil for a mega-hit bestselling book?  Randall the main character in Barry Lyga's latest book, UNSOUL'D does and what follows is a hilarious and sad look of the life of a somewhat successful author's journey to super stardom minus his soul.

Now for the disclaimer :)  Barry and I are friends who go way back to a time before we were both published authors.  We met at a writing workshop at World Con in Philadelphia in the 90s.  Keeping in touch via email and kvetching over our efforts to get published, we sold our first novels around the same time. His debut novel, The Astonishing Adventures of Fan Boy and Goth Girl is a fantastic story and a great insight into a 15 year-old boy's life.

UNSOUL'D is Barry's first book with an adult protagonist.  A warning to my younger readers that this book has lots of sex and adult language and situations.   It's also his first self-published book and only available as an ebook.

Barry has generously offered to give away 9 copies of his ebook!!  So leave a comment by Saturday, October 5, 2013 and you'll be entered to win a copy!  Please leave an email addy so I can contact you (Goodreads friends - no need to leave an addy - I can contact you through the site).  Open to ALL!

UNSOUL'D: Randall Banner is thirty-five years old, a middling mid-list author who yearns for more of everything: More attention. More fame. More money. More fans.

Then, one quiet morning, he meets the devil while pounding away at his laptop at his usual coffee shop. Soon, a deal is made, a contract is signed, and Randall is on his way to fame and fortune unlike any he ever imagined.

What follows is a bawdy, hilarious, yet harrowing tale of one man, one devil, and a deal that could change the world

Q&A with Barry Lyga:

Maria: You've been writing books for young adults for years why the switch to adult?

Barry: I never really thought of it as a "switch," to be honest with you. My YA was never "aimed" at any particular audience, and I've always had a fairly large, vocal adult readership. I don't think in terms of genres or market segments -- I think in terms of stories. So when this story occurred to me, it was just a moment of, "Oh, sure, probably not for kids" and then I went ahead and wrote it. The story wanted to be told, so I told it.

Maria: You also self-published this book. What prompted you to go solo?

Barry: There were a variety of factors that all came together. First of all, it's a tough book for publishers to wrap their minds around -- is it comedy? Satire? Literary? What the hell IS it? Sarah Maclean described it as "Nick Hornby writing Californication" and that's cool, but publishers don't grok that. So, I had an uphill battle ahead in terms of convincing someone to take a chance on it.

Then there was the fact that I come from the comic book world originally, where self-publishing has long been a thriving, important part of the market. I've always been fascinated by the details and minutiae of publishing, so I knew someday I would self-publish something. This was just the perfect opportunity to do so.

Maria: What sparked the idea for the story?

Barry: Years and years ago, I decided I wanted to write a "deal with the devil" story that had a really wicked twist at the end, something that turned such stories on their heads. But I didn't know what form it would take. And then one day a year or so ago, that beginning popped into my head: "That day, I had a bagel for breakfast and sold my soul to the devil. In retrospect, the bagel was probably a mistake." And Randall's whole voice and sad, sad life popped into my head.

Maria: The main character is a published author who sells his soul for a hit book. How much of Randall is Barry?

Barry: Ha! I like to tell people that Randall does and says everything I wish I'd done and said at some point in my life…but now am SO glad I never did! [LOL!]

Maria: I found Randall's character at times hard to like, yet I had to see how his story ended. You didn't sugar coat him at all and I loved the raw honesty. Were you concerned about your readers being unable to connect with him?

Barry: I always think about that because I tend to gravitate towards difficult characters -- people who are damaged or broken in some essential way that sets them off from the rest of us. The outcasts and the outsiders. Those are tough people to love, but I'm fascinated by them. And I truly believe that we can learn just as much about the world and life and ourselves from these people as we can from the more typical "guy I want as a boyfriend" or "girl I wish I could be" sorts of characters populating our fictions.

But you nailed it -- you loved his honesty and you had to see how his story ended. It didn't matter whether or not you LIKED him -- you were INTERESTED in him. That's what I was hoping for. I mean, hell, I don't even like Randall all that much, so how could I expect you to! But I do find him intriguing, and I'm hoping that readers will find themselves hate-reading his story, thinking, "This guy is such a jerk!" while simultaneously thinking, "I can't get enough!"

Maria: Randall thinks about sex a lot. Is this typical for a 35 year old male?

Barry: I can't speak for all 35 year old males, but I think in Randall's case, his obsession with sex is really a cover for his feeling that he's been left out somehow. He doesn't just crave more sex -- he craves more of EVERYTHING. His primal sin is gluttony, really. People who've read the book focus on the sex, but Randall is equally as obsessed with his Amazon ranking, his smoothie choices, his apartment, his Twitter followers, his number of signings, his number of books published, his workout sessions… Randall wants MORE, and sex turns out to be something he can get a lot of, so he really zeroes in on it. But it's not just sex. Not really. People just zoom in on that because, well, it's sex!

Maria: What's next? What are you working on now?

Barry: I am wrapping up my I HUNT KILLERS trilogy as well as starting on a very cool middle-grade project -- the polar opposite of UNSOUL'D! I'm also working on a top-secret YA that will hopefully be announced soon. [Tease!]

Find Barry:

Link to the book: