The ALL FOUR STARS blog tour – stop 5

The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher - coverIt’s Monday, which means it’s time to announce the winner of my giveaway of Jessica Lawson’s magnificent debut novel, The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky ThatcherCongratulations to Lindsay Eland, who is the winner! *cheers*

Monday also means that the All Four Stars blog tour is back at full swing. At Xpresso Reads, I have a guest post up called “Diversity is Delicious.” I think that the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is important, and I thank Jenni for giving me a chance to write a little about my own path to including diverse cultures in my writing. The post is about a very special teacher I had in high school and the culinary experiences that helped me get out of my picky-eating bubble.

all four stars tour buttonI’m also interviewed today over at With Faith and Grace, which is my lovely friend Allison’s blog. We talk about the publishing process, and there’s a whole new chance to win a copy of the book. The giveaway ends this week, so hurry on over!

There have also been some terrific new reviews over at Carina’s Books and Great Imaginations. I’m really enjoying hearing what new readers are enjoying in the book, and noting their intelligent critiques. Keep the opinions coming!

Updates, and chance to win an ARC of ALL FOUR STARS!

We haven’t had a general update here in a while, and there’s a reason for that–I’ve been insanely busy of late. I’m currently in the throes of sequel revision, am moving house this weekend, and have had a couple of extended family visits recently. Bottom line: not much time for blogging.

But, exciting things have still been happening. All Four Stars is now less than four months from publication (!!!), so if you’ve been following that journey, here are a few milestones that have happened recently.

Reviews
All Four Stars got its first book blogger review from the terrific Eli Madison at Tweens Read Too! Here’s the review, and here’s an interview I did at the same blog shortly after.

Giveaway
If you are on Twitter and would like to enter to win an ARC (advance copy) of All Four Stars, Eli is giving one away. All you have to do is follow Eli’s account and retweet this tweet about the giveaway: https://twitter.com/elimadison2019/status/447423264160088064. I think that there are currently very few entries, so your chances of winning are excellent. Go enter now!

swagSwag
Thanks to the design stylings of Amber at Me, My Shelf, & I and the printing prowess of GotPrint and Tattoo Sales, I am now proudly in possession of approximately one million billion All Four Stars-themed bookmarks, postcards, and temporary tattoos! If you would like some to pass out at your local library, school, bookstore, cocktail party, etc., please just give me a holler and I’ll be happy to pop some in the mail to you.

Preordering
All Four Stars is now available for preorder just about anywhere where you can buy books. Preorders are wonderfully helpful to authors (especially debut authors!), and I heartily thank all of you who have already ordered copies from your local bookstores or your favorite online retailers! And if you haven’t preordered yet but would like to, you can find links to booksellers here.

Over at Emu’s Debuts
I’ve recently published two new posts over at my group blog, Emu’s Debuts.

In “The Second Time Around,” I talk about how writing and publishing a second book is a little less exciting–but also a little less stressful–than it has been for my debut book.

And in “Strange Sweet Song Launch: When Cats (and Other Dangerous Animals) Attack!” I amassed tales of the Emus’ crazy animal encounters as part of our launch week celebration of Adi Rule’s YA debut, Strange Sweet Song. This book is one of the most incredible reads I’ve had in the past year, and I hope that everyone who reads this will go request a copy for their library and/or buy their own! If you’re a fan of dark, Gothic, romantic books like Jane Eyre, I think you’ll love this book. Here’s my own GoodReads review.

Strange Sweet SongStrange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this book, and let me tell you, it was incredible. I am someone who has no musical skills and definitely no interest in opera, and still I found myself COMPLETELY sucked in to the world Adi Rule has created–a remote conservatory with a touch of magical stuff going on.

The writing is impeccable on the sentence level–the author really uses all of the senses to make the reader experience the wintry setting and hear the beautiful music being played and sung. And she is just as comfortable writing about everyday teenage backbiting and boyfriend-stealing as she is executing the more gothic and paranormal aspects of the story, bringing all of those elements together seamlessly.

This was hands-down one of my favorite reads of 2013, and I imagine it will top many people’s lists when it hits the shelves in 2014.

View all my reviews

I think that that’s all my news at the moment. Once I’m settled into my new place, I plan to start sharing All Four Stars-related recipes here, working on a discussion guide for the book, and launching an e-mail newsletter. Stay tuned!

Interview with Colorado author Renee Collins!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I’m happy to welcome young adult author Renee Collins to the blog!

Renee’s debut YA novel, Relic, was published by Entangled Teen in 2013. Welcome, Renee!

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Renee CollinsI’m a transplant. We moved here for my husband’s job four years ago and I think we’re here to stay.






Tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

Relic, by Renee CollinsMy debut novel, RELIC, came out this last August with Entangled Teen. It’s a YA fantasy set in Old West Colorado. The red rock cliff near my house actually helped inspire the setting in the book. It’s a world where miners don’t dig for gold, but instead the magical relics of ancient fantasy creatures like the dragon, mermaid, and unicorn. Maggie Davis loses her family in a terrible, magic-created fire, and she has to relocate to the tough town of Burning Mesa in the hopes of finding out who’s responsible.


What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

I live in Western Colorado, less than 5 miles from the Colorado National Monument. I can see the red rock cliffs from my bedroom window! The view is truly beautiful, and part of the reason we picked this area to live.

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

I love doing outdoorsy things to get my creative juices flowing. Mountain biking and hiking always helps to clear my head and stir my imagination. And there’s no better place to hike or mountain bike than Colorado, in my opinion.

I’ve heard that about the mountain biking here (though I’m too chicken to try it myself). Thanks so much, Renee–Relic sounds amazing, and like the perfect Colorado-set read!

Interview with Colorado author Jennifer Duddy Gill!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I’m happy to welcome Jennifer Duddy Gill to the blog!

Jennifer’s debut middle-grade novel, The Secret of Ferrell Savage, is being published TODAY by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster! (Hoorah! Confetti!!) It sounds adorable and hilarious–read on to get to know Jennifer and find out more about her book!

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Jennifer Duddy GillI’m a two-time transplant. Like you, Tara, I’ve traveled and lived all over the world. When I got married we settled down in Virginia. But that didn’t last long. My husband got a job here in Denver so we moved and fell in love with Colorado. Five years later, we both got the itch to live overseas with our two daughters, so we sold everything we owned and bought a little piece of jungle in Costa Rica. Two years later, when we decided to return to the U.S., we knew we wanted to come back to Denver. We’re likely to live overseas again, but we’ll always keep a taproot here.

Tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

The Secret of Ferrell Savage by Jennifer Duddy GillMy debut novel is called The Secret of Ferrell Savage. It begins with Ferrell entering a sled race to impress a girl he likes and, for reasons that go beyond his control, he gets her attention and becomes a celebrity in his town. A jealous racing competitor threatens to reveal a secret about Ferrell that even he, Ferrell, didn’t know: he’s a descendant of the infamous Colorado cannibal, Alferd Packer. But it’s actually not a gruesome story at all. The main thing that Ferrell has in common with his great, great, great uncle is that they both became unexpected legends.

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

The window by my writing desk looks out onto our balcony which calls to me on warm days, but is lonely and often snowy during the winter months. Beyond the rooftops I can see the tip of the Denver skyline, including the “cash register” building.

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

Diversity. I love living in a big city filled with people from all over the world; plus, we have great museums, a wonderful zoo, and big city parks. In about an hour we can be in the mountains hiking or skiing. Oh, another best thing is our libraries. When we were in Costa Rica my children and I actually sent letters to our old library telling them how much we missed them.

Agreed, Jennifer–the libraries here are incredible! Thank you for the interview, and congratulations on the publication of The Secret of Ferrell Savage! I can’t wait to pick up my copy.

Your first chance to win a copy of ALL FOUR STARS!

ALL FOUR STARS by Tara Dairman coverJust a quick note to let you know that the wonderful Krista Van Dolzer is giving away an advance copy of my debut novel All Four Stars over at her blog. This is your very first chance to win an early copy, more than six months before it hits the shelves on July 10!

The link:

Book Recommendation and ARC Giveaway: ALL FOUR STARS by Tara Dairman

Good luck if you enter!

The day the Internet gave me a hug

Excitement!

Excitement!

When I first created this WordPress blog in 2012,  I quickly stumbled upon the “Freshly Pressed” page, which seemed to feature all sorts of interesting-sounding blog posts. “Wow, it would be pretty cool to get one of my posts up on this page,” I thought. But I assumed it was basically impossible, and soon forgot all about it.

Fast-forward to January 6, 2014, and my first post of the year on the group author blog I contribute to, Emu’s Debuts (also with WordPress). For once, instead of throwing something together at the last minute, I actually had most of a piece drafted in advance, reflecting on a surprising phone call I’d recently had with my mom. I’d pretty much been on writing hiatus since early December, when I’d turned Gladys 2 into my editor, so maybe my brain was really itching to tell a story. In any case, I felt pretty good about how this piece had turned out, and was pleased that within a few hours of posting, it seemed to be striking a chord with our blog’s regular commenters and even with some of my friends and family members.

But I certainly wasn’t prepared for the e-mail I received that afternoon. “I hope your blog is ready to welcome some new readers,” it said. “Your post will be featured on Freshly Pressed as a WordPress.com editors’ pick!”

Whoa! I was pretty excited, to say the least. I called my husband at work, and then my sister, but neither of them picked up. Then I called my mom, who did answer, and got as excited with me as a person who barely knows what a blog is possibly can. 🙂

Anyway, the next couple of days saw a great influx of visitors and commenters to our group blog–and while I tried to brace myself for the backlash and nuttiness that I know exposure to the Internet-at-large can bring, I have to say that the notes and stories that have been shared on the post have been really lovely so far. I don’t write to get people to like me, but at least for the past couple of days, I’ve kind of felt like the Internet was giving me a hug. It was a nice way to kick off my debut year.

So, all of this excitement has led to a little reflection on my part. I don’t usually blog about personal stuff, but I guess I need to acknowledge my two most successful blog posts of the last year*–the ones that got the most hits, yes, but also the ones that triggered the most comments and tweets and e-mails telling me that what I wrote had resonated with someone, or helped them out in some way–were the ones where I did go out on a limb and share some personal experiences.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to turn this blog into a weekly confessional (trust me, no one wants that!). But I know that some things debut authors (and not-so-debut authors) debate about a lot is how best to use social media, and how protective to be of your privacy, and how much of your personal story to put out there. And for me, surprisingly, the right answer to that last question may just be “a little bit more.” Because sometimes, sharing a true story really does help connect you with other people in a genuine way.

What do you think?

 

* Those posts were “First Drafting: Now 96% Faster,” and “A Different Kind of Call.”

 

Interview with Colorado author Stephanie Blake!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I’m happy to welcome middle-grade and picture book author Stephanie Blake to the blog!

Stephanie is the author of the middle-grade historical novel The Marble Queenwhich was a finalist for the 2013 Colorado Book Award. Welcome, Stephanie!

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Stephanie BlakeI was born in Hawarden, Iowa. My parents moved the family to Colorado when I was five. I’ve lived all over this beautiful state.









The Marble Queen by Stephanie BlakeTell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

My first middle grade novel came out from Two Lions in late December 2012. It’s called THE MARBLE QUEEN. I just sold a picture book to Albert Whitman called MY ROTTEN FRIEND. It will be out in March 2015 (tentatively). It’s about elementary school zombies. [<–Interviewer’s note: AWESOME.]




What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

I live in gorgeous Castle Rock. I can see the rock from my backyard and my kids and husband like to hike it. I’m scared of heights, so I have never been up there.

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?
I’m always inspired by the other Colorado writers I know. It’s fun to see everyone at the RMC-SCBWI Conference each year.

Thank you, Stephanie, and congratulations on the new picture book sale! (Also, I didn’t even know that you could climb Castle Rock–too cool!)