Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cynthea Liu is Here!

I’m still playing catch up this week, so . . . .

I have another interview for you! If you recognize this name . . . yeah, it’s because we’ve been through this before. Ms. Cynthea Liu actually had TWO books release this year. We’ve already covered her debut: The Great Call of China, now we are celebrating the release of her middle grades novel: Paris Pan Takes the Dare! (Cynthea is clearly staying busy.)

About Paris Pan Takes the Dare

Twelve-year-old Paris Pan's life is a mess. She's just moved to a tiny town in Nowheresville, Oklahoma; her family life is a comical disaster; her new friends are more like frenemies; and the boy she has a crush on is a dork. Things couldn't possibly get worse, until she discovers that a girl mysteriously died years ago while taking a seventh-grade rite of passage–the Dare– right near Paris's new house. So when Paris starts hearing strange noises coming from the creepy run-down shed in her backyard, she thinks they could be a message from the ghost of a girl. But while she has no plans to make contact with the great beyond, her two new friends have other thoughts. Everyone who's anyone takes the Dare, and now it's Paris's turn.

(Hijack! Let me interrupt and say that I’ve read Paris Pan, and it is *such* a great book! It comes highly recommended, and you know you can trust me!)

About Cynthea Liu

Cynthea spent her formative years in Oklahoma and Texas where she was
a Whiz Quiz member, an Academic Decathloner, and a spelling bee
champion. (Yes, she was very popular.) After attending college on the
East coast, she worked at a corporate job where she mastered
PowerPoint and racked up thousands of frequent flyer miles.
Eventually, she traded in her suit for sweats to do the fun
stuff–writing for children. In addition to PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE
and THE GREAT CALL OF CHINA, Cynthea's nonfiction book WRITING FOR
CHILDREN AND TEENS: A CRASH COURSE (how to write, revise, and publish
your kid's or teen book with children's book publishers) is available
in paperback.

On to the Interview!

Me: Without giving away too many spoilers, what is your favorite part of the novel/what was the part you had the most fun writing?

Cynthea: My favorite scenes from PARIS PAN usually involve basketball and any PAN family member. The funnest characters to write? Had to be Verona and Papa Pan. These characters always had plenty of room to inject humor into the story and I didn't have to look very far because my real sister and father are pretty funny people (read: CRAZY).

Me: (lol) Your family dynamic was excellent! I loved their accents! The Pans had me cracking up! What kind of writing projects are you currently working on? Or, if you aren't working on anything new, is there a different demographic/genre you wouldn't mind tackling in the future?

Cynthea: I'd really like to tackle the Easy Reader market. There's an innocence there that I'd enjoy capturing in new stories that would appeal to this younger age group.

Me: Who is your writing hero and why?

Cynthea: My mom is my hero for everything (sorry, Dad. Love ya, but Mom always wins this one.) Problem is, Mom doesn't really write, and assembly language doesn't count! (Inside joke for computer geeks). Anyway, I do admire quite a few writers but no one shall be named here for fear of annoying other writers who think they should be on my list. Who needs that sort of pressure? :)

Me: Yeah, Moms are great. Mine sells my book to her friends. . . .

Readers . . . You can visit Cynthea at her home on the web:

And . . . Paris Pan Takes the Dare is officially on sale. You can buy it here:

Thank you so much for stopping by, Cynthea!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cyn Balog is Here!

Hi Everyone!

I have another interview for you! Today I’m talking to Cyn Balog, who is celebrating the release of her debut novel: FAIRY TALE.

You know the routine:

About Fairy Tale

Morgan Sparks and Cam Browne are a match made in heaven. They've been best friends since birth, they tell each other everything, and oh yeah- they're totally hot for each other. But a week before their joint Sweet Sixteen bash, everything changes. Cam's awkward cousin Pip comes to stay, and Morgan is stunned when her formerly perfect boyfriend seems to be drifting away. When Morgan demands answers, she's shocked to discover the source of Cam's distance isn't another girl- it's another world. Pip claims that Cam is a fairy. No, seriously. A fairy. And now his people want Cam to return to their world and take his rightful place as Fairy King.

Determined to keep Cam with her, Morgan plots to fool the fairies. But as Cam continues to change, she has to decide once and for all if he really is her destiny, and if their "perfect" love can weather an uncertain future.

(Hijack: Doesn’t this sound yummy?)

About Cyn Balog

Cyn Balog is a normal, everyday Jersey Girl who always believed magical things can happen to us when we least expect them. She's also the Race & Event Manager for several national fitness magazines. She lives outside Allentown, Pennsylvania with her husband and young daughter. Both are 100% human, or so she thinks. FAIRY TALE is her first novel.

(Another Hijack! Cyn also is also celebrating the birth of a new baby girl! Congrats Cyn!)

On to the Interview!

Me: Without giving away too many spoilers, what is your favorite part of the novel/what was the part you had the most fun writing?

Cyn: I have a lot of fun writing dialogue, especially when two characters are trading witty jabs at one another. I seem to do it in every book I write because I like coming up with sarcastic comebacks!

Me: I love snarky comments! My best writing stems from characters who are yelling at each other. Go figure. What kind of writing projects are you currently working on? Or, if you aren't working on anything new, is there a different demographic/genre you wouldn't mind tackling in the future?

Cyn: SLEEPLESS, coming from Delacorte in 2010, is about a Sandman who falls in love with a mortal girl whose sleep he controls. It's another YA paranormal.

Me: That sounds amazing! I saw the cover on your blog: I *heart* it!! And finally: Who is your writing hero and why?

Cyn: Judy Blume-- I grew up with her and I think it was reading her books that made me want to be a writer. I didn't have any real-life mentors growing up, so I think I just wanted to be Judy.

Me: Awesome!

Readers . . . You can visit Cyn at her home on the web:

And . . . FAIRY TALE is officially on sale. You can buy it here:

Cyn will be chatting with Sarah Cross tomorrow at:

Thank you so much for stopping by, Cyn! (And take a break, will ya?) :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

An Excerpt!

I’m taking the lazy way out today. I’m working on a deadline this week, and I think every class I teach had a paper due over the weekend (how does it always work that way?). And so . . . I’m leaving you with an excerpt of One Wish to read and (hopefully) enjoy. I’d post something from my WIP, which I hit 55k on last night, but I don’t think it’s in a state where I’m ready to share.

Urban Fantasy is way fun to write, but I’m not used to all the action . . . like car crashes and fires . . . and I think a character is going to DIE. I’ve never killed a character before. It should prove interesting. More on that later, though.

Don’t forget I’m hosting a contest until the end of the month! The details are here:

It’s open to girls ages 13-18 anywhere in the world. If you know a girl in this age range, feel free to forward the info!

Without further ado. . . .

Two hours later, I was standing outside in the freezing cold, waiting for my mom. “I swear, as soon as I’m sixteen, I’m applying for the first job I can get, and then I’m buying myself a car,” I muttered. My breath turned to smoke in the January air, and I rubbed my arms vigorously to keep warm. The door to the building opened behind me. I heard voices and laughter.
“Oh, I didn’t know anyone was still here,” someone called. I turned around and watched as Steven and the blonde girl who was pouring drinks earlier walked toward me.
“You can wait inside, you know. The building isn’t locked,” she continued.
“I know,” I lied. “My mom should be here any minute, though. So I was just waiting out here.”
She stuck her hand out. “I’m Frenchy, by the way. Well, my real name is Tabitha, but until April, I’m Frenchy.”
“Rizzo,” I replied.
“Oh. You’re Wrenn. I saw you at the audition. You were amazing,” she said with a sense of awe. “I mean, you were really great.”
My eyes instantly fell to my feet and I began to blush. “Thank you,” I whispered. For someone who was supposed to be a budding starlet, I wasn’t handling my newfound attention very well. “I’m kind of new at all this,” I said with a shrug.
She waved her hand. “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it,” Tabitha said. “When you’re on stage for the first time, it’s such a rush. You’ll never want to leave the spotlight, not ever.”
I gave her a half-hearted smile. “I never really wanted to be in the spotlight,” I confessed.
“Well, you’re going to be there now,” she replied, stepping off the sidewalk. “So you may as well get used to it!” Tabitha waved good-bye and crossed the parking lot.
“Bye, Steven!” she called.
Steven answered, then, turning toward me, asked if I needed a ride home.
“No, it’s okay—really. My mom is on her way.” I glanced down at my watch. “Like, any minute now.”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Well, if you ever need anything—a ride to rehearsal or something—I’d be glad to pick you up.”
I smiled at him. “Thanks. That’s really sweet of you.”
Steven pulled out a sheet of paper from his clipboard and a pen from the pocket on his flannel shirt. I recognized the headlights of my mother’s car fast approaching.
She pulled beside us and slowed to a stop, just as Steven handed me the piece of paper. “This is my address, phone number, and my email address. I’ll be glad to take you to and from rehearsals if your mom ever gets tired of it. I know mine sure did.”
“Okay,” I agreed, as I opened the passenger side door. “Thanks.”
As soon as the door was shut and I was safely buckled in, my mother let the questions fly. “Who was that? What’s his name? Do you like him?” And more importantly, “Does he like you?” Notice that she wasn’t at all concerned for my safety as I waited in the dark, but wanted to know all about my love life. Those were her priorities. She was almost as concerned with my love life as she was with my weight—and that was way concerned.
“His name is Steven; he’s in the play. I hardly know him.”
“Well, what’s the piece of paper he gave you?”
“His number.”
“His number?” she repeated. “As in his phone number?”
I rolled my eyes. “No, his Social Security number. Yes, it’s his phone number.”
“Well, you’re going to call him, right?”
“Um, no, I wasn’t planning on it. He said to call if I ever needed a ride or something.”
She looked over at me. “Or something? Wrenn, I think he likes you.” She spoke in hushed tones—like this was some huge, amazing secret.
“Likes me? Please, Mom. I don’t even know the guy.”
“All I’m saying is that you should call him.”
I watched the lights in town roll past. “I don’t have a reason.”
“Oh, I can give you a reason.”
There was a funny look in her eyes—that twinkle—and I hoped it was from her “terrific” evening with Phil and not from whatever little ideas were now running through her simple mind.
“Don’t even think about it,” I threatened. “After tonight, you owe me big-time.”

Have a great day!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

5 Things and a Song

Happy Tuesday!!

As always, I am full of randomness. . . .

1. First, I want to post the link to a fabulous review of ONE WISH from Wendy, who made my week not only through her kind words, but by posting her review on Amazon and pushing that one star “Worst Review Ever” off to the side.

2. Speaking of Worst Reviews Ever, I’m featured on the fabulous Alexa Young’s “Worst Review Ever” blog this week. Stop by to comment and vote, and check out some of the other reviews while you’re there.

3. Also, I wanted to send a shout out to the always amazing Cynthia Liu, who hosted an incredible auction/dare to help a Title I School. More than $13,000 dollars was raised! Woot! Congratulations to the winner of my auction, who bid $135 for a critique. I can’t wait to read your work!

4. This week I also learned about Albert Borris, a member of the class of 2k9, who suffered a stroke last year. He’s making great progress, but is still working on his speech and writing. Albert’s debut novel, CRASH INTO ME, which is about a group of suicidal teens who head on a road trip, is now available (and officially on my Must Read list).

Head here for more information about Albert:

And here to order the book:

We’re rooting for you, Albert!

5. Don’t forget that I’m hosting a contest throughout the month of July! Go here for details:

Finally . . . I know a lot of authors post playlists for their novels when they are released, highlighting songs that relate to the book. I don’t have a playlist, but . . .

. . . if I had to assign any song to represent ONE WISH, this is it:

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Have a Great Day!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Contest Alert!

Hi Everyone!

I'm hosting a contest over on my LiveJournal blog.

Check it out and enter here:


Monday, July 6, 2009


Hi Everyone!

I wanted to take a moment to blog about this fabulous opportunity to help a Title I school fill their classrooms with books. This event, which runs through July 8th, is hosted by the fabulous Cynthea Liu over at:

First . . . The Need:

I teach third grade at Tulakes Elementary, a Title I school in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Children residing in our surrounding area or community live in an environment of high poverty, gang violence, and crime with the inherent social problems these issues generate. The children are so needy that many wear the same clothes several days in a row. Some do not know where their next meal is coming from. Our school receives little to no help from families that can barely afford to pay their bills.

We at Tulakes love our children and want them to succeed. We know how important reading and writing is, but we don’t always have the funds to supplement what we have in the classroom. For most of our children, the only reading time they get is at school. The books we have in our classrooms are often ones the teachers have bought, but we are still sorely lacking leveled fiction and non-fiction books for each classroom. We would like our students to be able to get a book on their reading level at any time for writing, research, and enjoyment. While our school library and book room are resources available to us, there are just not enough books to go around and these kids can hardly spend enough time with their checked-out book before it has to go back and into the hands of another child.

We also take 20 minutes each day in which the children read silently to themselves at their desks. We have used cardboard boxes in the past to hold those books, but these fall apart in such a short time. We would like to obtain more heavy-duty, plastic book boxes for each classroom.

Books open a whole new world to our children. It is so exciting to see them reading, writing, doing research, and truly enjoying it. We would appreciate your help in jump-starting our 3rd grade level-reading program in the classroom. As an example, it costs approximately $700 for one leveled non-fiction classroom set. A sturdy book box we can use year after year is $3.25 per student. Our goal is to, over time, have small leveled-reading libraries in every classroom.

Thank you so much for your help. You are making a difference in these children’s lives.

Sincerely yours,

Michele Parham
3rd Grade Teacher
Tulakes Elementary

What You Can Do to Help:

There are many ways that you can help this school. Specific information can be found here: The Dare:

Also, Authors, Agents, and Editors have teamed up to help Tulakes, and are auctioning critiques for YOUR manuscript. It doesn’t matter if you write picture books, middle grade novels, or YA; fiction or nonfiction; contemporary realistic, historical, or fantasy: there’s an auction for you. Here’s the list:

I’m helping out, too! Here’s the link to my auction:

The Prize: One critique of the first three chapters of your young adult novel (30 double-spaced pages max), which includes one full chapter of line edits and directional suggestions for the rest.

So, if you get a moment, I hope you will check out the auctions and consider contributing to this worthy cause.

Cynthea has also designated the profits of the sale of her novel Paris Pan Takes the Dare for Tulakes: make sure you follow instructions on her website. (I read Paris Pan last week, and it was *SUCH* a great read. I highly recommend for that 5th-7th grade girl in your life!)

Remember, the auctions end on July 8th, so get your bids in today. Or, if you aren’t a writer, consider donating to Tulakes through Donors Choose: your contribution will be doubled! (The link can be found on the Dare page.)

This has been a highly successful event so far. Cynthea has posted this message on her site:

“UPDATE: We’ve raised enough money for 3rd grade sets of leveled readers—not just for Michele’s class but HER ENTIRE GRADE. The teachers at Tulakes are so excited to be getting their first new classroom sets of readers for their classrooms. But there is still work to be done. It’s time to make some 2nd graders happy! SO KEEP IT UP!”

I hope you’ll check out the links provided, and consider bidding at one of the auctions. This is an amazing opportunity to have your work critiqued by some of the most amazing people in the industry.

AND . . . it’s for a good cause.

Can’t beat that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with helping others.

Have a great day!


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Vanity Searches!

Hi, I’m Leigh, and I’m a self-googler.

Is googler even a word? Well, I just made it one. So yeah, I signed up for Google Alerts so I’d know immediately whenever something related to me or One Wish hit the internet . . . only I’ve found that it doesn’t catch everything . . . so I’ve become obsessed with googling myself to see what’s going on. The guy I’m sorta married to but not allowed to talk about online is concerned I’m vain. If I am, I blame him . . . and Louis Vuitton.

Anyway, here are some neat things I’ve discovered this week in my narcissistic pursuits:

The Ottawa Public Library System has One Wish on order:

Oh! And here it is at the Missoula Montana Library . . . but it’s been checked out! Yay! Whoever you are I hope you love it!

(There are quite a few libraries stocking One Wish now, so check to see if your library has it. If not, ask them why!)

And here I am on ebay!,-2009)_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQimsfpZTL090630171002r4643QQimsxZ20090630QQitemZ341109074887QQmediaitemZ1

If you live in India . . . fear not! You have free shipping:

If you live in Germany . . . you can get One Wish through Amazon. I’m not sure how this works, though, and I’d imagine shipping costs are going to burn. You’re better off living in India. Apparently the German translation for One Wish is Gebundene Ausgabe. Cool right? Guten Tag! (Yes, that is the extent of my foreign language capabilities . . . in German, at least.)

And . . . I have a signing set up for September in Elizabeth City at Page by Page: it’s already on their calendar!!

Still waiting for confirmation about which bookstores will carry One Wish, and when they will be stocked. YOU can help, though! How?

1. Call or stop by your local bookstore (chain or independent) and ask them if they’re stocking One Wish. If they aren’t, ask: Why Not?

2. Ditto with the libraries! More and more libraries are jumping on the One Wish bandwagon every day (I know, because I’m stalking them on WorldCat), so check back often. Please don’t harass the librarians, though: we love them.

3. Encourage your friends to pick up a copy, or buy one for a friend.

4. If you’ve already read One Wish, consider
a) blogging about it (I’d especially love to see a vlog!)
b) write a review. There are so many awesome teen review sites, and I’d love
to have more Amazon reviews so a certain other review (cough cough) skips to another page.

(After you’ve submitted, email me and I’ll post the link here.)

I’m planning blitzkrieg promotion this fall, so stay tuned for details. I may be looking for street team members (girls between the ages of 13-17) to help me out.

Will keep you posted.

Wait a minute . . . blitzkrieg is German, too, right? I’m so much smarter than I thought . . . and never, ever vain. :)

Have a Fabulous Thursday!