Thursday, May 27, 2010

TENNER OF THE MONTH: Kristina McBride

If you've been going around blogosphere (which damn right you are, I bet!) you'll know that The Tension of Opposites is all the shiz.
It's YA.
It's Edgy.
And it's a debut novel.


And in case you're in the dark about it, here's how it goes:
Two years ago Noelle disappeared. Two long years of no leads, no word, no body. Since the abduction, Tessa, her best friend, has lived in a state of suspended animation. She has some friends, but keeps them distant. Some interests, but she won’t allow herself to become passionate about them. And guys? She can’t get close—she knows what it is like to really lose someone she cared for.

And then, one day, the telephone rings. Noelle is alive. And maybe, just maybe, Tess can start to live again, too.

A haunting psychological thriller taken straight from the headlines, The Tension of Opposites is a striking debut that explores the emotional aftermath a kidnapping can have on the victim, and on the people she left behind.

And who joins the list of Must-Watch-Out debut YA novelists?

Yep, that's Kristina McBride all right.
And she's a former high-school English teacher and yearbook advisor, who wrote The Tension of Opposites in response to the safe return of a child who was kidnapped while riding his bike to a friend’s house. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two young children. This is her first novel. 

And since I LOVE interviewing authors (especially debut authors), I snapped her up too (sheesh, how does that sound?). Lol. Here's the lets-get-a-bit-formal chatter we had:

A one line memoir for you would be . . .  
Shy book lover turned high school English teacher turned YA author. (YAY!)

What is the most amazing thing about writing YA?  
The characters! I love teen characters – the ups and downs of their friendships and relationships, the opportunity for personal growth, and the potential for tension in every their day lives.

You had a brush with kidnapping as a kid. Did it play into writing The Tension of Opposites? 
I think my almost kidnapping during a burglary-gone-wrong when I was a young child colored my view of life in general. Hearing that specific story my entire life definitely helped pique my interest when I first heard about Shawn Hornbeck, a young man who was kidnapped at age 11 and returned to his family at age 15. His story kick started the formation of the plot for The Tension of Opposites.

What has been the toughest challenge about writing TENSION?  
Revision. I wrote the first draft in four or five months. After landing my agent, I spent eleven months revising with her direction. Six months in, I deleted all but five chapters and started over. It was painful, but worth every moment of the challenge to get the story right.

The cover is so fierce and attractive. Did your input go into it?  
Thank you! I feel so fortunate to be working with the very talented people at Egmont USA. I had no idea what they would do as far as the cover, and vividly remember the moment I opened the file and saw the artwork for the first time. It was a surreal moment, a beautifully surreal moment. I loved it! Egmont made most of the minor changes on their own, but they were very open to suggestions. One of the most major things that changed was the tint on the girl’s face. Initially, she was colored with a greenish sepia tint, giving her a darker, more ominous quality. My agent and I wanted to see a lighter, more rosy tone, and when the change was made, it stuck.

You own a pretty cool blog. How important is it for a writer to have a strong web presence? 
How fun that you’ve stopped by! I think a strong web presence is essential for a debut author. Most authors have a website and a presence on Goodreads, MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter. I believe this is the best way to reach bloggers (who have been overwhelmingly supportive in my case!) as well as potential readers. It’s also been wonderful to join some cool author groups, like the Class of 2K10 and The Tenners who are there when I need support or to have questions answered.
  
Rapid fire --
    Write what you know VS Write what you want to know?  Write what you know.
    Outline or Wing It?  Wing it – then outline it – then wing it some more.
    Fictional character you'd love to be?  Margo Roth Spiegelman from John Green’s Paper Towns – not sure    if I’d rather be her or be her best friend . . .
    Fictional character you'd love to date?  Wes from Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever. LOVE him!
    Biggest writing dream?  To win a cool award or hit a bestseller list would be awesome, but really, I just want people to like and connect with my book.

Quick tip on how to get published. (Spill us a secret or two :P)  
Don’t give up. Ever. Keep writing. Research your genre and how to land an agent. Query tirelessly. And don’t allow rejection to get you down. (At least not for too long.) Chocolate is essential for those tough moments.

And the easiest (or toughest) --why did you choose to be a writer? 
It wasn’t so much a choice as an insatiable need to put words on paper. Even if no one would ever read them. It’s just part of who I am.

(Best answer ever.Don't we all just know the 'insatiable need'?)

Tenner of the Month? Oh yeah, she's it. The Tension of Opposites released on the 25th of May and is available HERE and wherever books are available (this I'm guessing, since it's not exactly possible for me to go around confirming with every darn bookstore, library yada yada).
Also, the trailer..is just darn fantastic. Feast your eyes.


                                                      


PS. I realised just a little too late how small this blog is. Sigh.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

WHAT. FRESH. NEWS. IS. IN.

Contests. Yes! What better than some free books and swag?

In celebration of reaching 150 followers (CONGRATS!), Lydia is offering a B&N gift card, Starbucks gift card, as well as Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light. Rush HERE.

Kathy Brady is showering her followers with love! Up for grabs are Amazon Gift Cards for first, second and third prizes. How awesome is that? BAG IT!

Also, my amazing twinsie, Rachel is holding a "Massive Giveaway", which, quite honestly, if you miss, you''ll be doomed. And you don't wanna be doomed, do you? I don't want you to be doomed either, since a lot of this blog is about spreading the cheer..so you might as well Head THERE.

And, bestie Tahereh has quite literally a contest that will IMPLODE YOU BRAIN (a follow-up of the Contest That Cracked the Earth into Two). I can't even begin to list all the jazz that's up for your taking. Join in and even if you don't win, you'll win a bucketful of Tahereh's love for lifetime. Yeah, Go AHEAD.

Kathleen Ortiz has YA/MG books and ARCs, bookstore gift card, query critique, synopsis critique, first chapter critique or an extra book. (I'd go for the bookstore gift card. Or the first chapter critique. Or the extra book. Or..oh, I dunno, they are all so tempting!). Aren't you tempted enough? Head OVER.

Since my comp's still out and I'm-typing-this-out-at-the-British-Council-Library, you can guess why I have been sorta M.I.A for a while. I'll be back. Promise. Though for how long, considering that the exam cloud is hanging over my head, is doubtful. But I'll be back, 'cos I so love you all and I can't stay away from you for long.
For now, here's to free books!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why I Wish I Had Written THIS Book

Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is Sex. Released from the constraints of ‘normal’ life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallised in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out.

Some books make you laugh. Some break your heart. Yet other make you feel good. Some end up bittersweet. Very rarely does a book make you feel profoundly alive. Jenny Downham’s Before I Die did just that to me.

If I could, I’d paint the words ‘Before I Die’ across the sky, so that everyone in this world reads this book.
Because Jenny Downham’s debut is so bloody brilliant you can't miss it.

Among the books I’ve read this year (and I’ve read a fair some), Tessa stands out from the other protagonists and if anyone’s planning to give her competition later this year, well, good just won’t do. You have to come up with someone pretty brilliant. Tessa is inconsiderate and selfish. Rude, even. And I just loved her. And wanted to know her. And never wanted this book to end (even though I was rushing in anticipation) because that would mean leaving Tessa. Because, you see, this book is a journey. One where you live with Tessa, in Tessa.

The voice is spot on, the writing pricks where it’s supposed to, caresses otherwise. It takes you to the edge, pushes you into the abyss and brings you out with even more belief in life. If that isn't wickedly awesome, what is?

Every character has a distinct personality, such that they seem to jump out of the pages. I could say who was saying what without reading the dialogue tags. People you meet everyday and don’t, too. Tessa’s Dad, Cal, Zoey.

Then, Adam.

Seldom do you meet a love interest like Adam.
Because firstly, he is ugly, and the writer makes that quite clear in an early chapter.
And secondly, he isn’t one to resort to witty remarks to floor the MC.
He is real. So real, infact, that he’s almost perfect in his depiction.
Like everything about this book is.

I wish I had written Before I Die. I wish I could write a book half as good as this one.

I want to read everything Jenny Downham is capable of writing. Because, oh god, after reading this, I have a massive author crush on her (in a non-creepy way).

Monday, May 10, 2010

How NOT Pefect

Before I start, I’d like to bow to Kristen and Steph for their fantastic posts on 'Body Image'. And to all those who followed them with their own lovely posts on the subject, here’s a round of applause!

I’m late (thunderstorms, lost net conn, crashed comp, I’m-in-the-internet-café-right-now etc) but I’m hoping I won’t be the last person to join in the chain.

Because this is about NOT hating yourself.

Because this is about feeling good.

Well, I hope.

Once upon a time, there was a girl *cough cough* who was superskinny, with the super tiny waist everyone was injecting themselves with fat syringes to have and all she could say was, ‘What the heck is wrong with these people?’

‘Cause the heroine of this story was neither anorexic, nor bulimic, not even remotely interested in losing weight. Bless the genes. Except, for her, it was all blame the genes. Who in their right mind would want to be skinny? Instead, she was trying to get fatter. Seriously lacking in the ass and basooma department, the mantra was Gain Weight, Lose Hate. Whatever that means.

So what happened after all that hogging day and night, week after week on fatty food?

She still remained skinny. Stupid non-fattening genes. She was stuck on skinny for life.

And then she hated herself.

Because while her friends went My humps, my humps, my lovely lady lumps, she was still asked to show her ID while going to watch an 18+ rated movie. And instead of being asked out by boys her age she was quickly turning into a SILF (refer MILF. Ahem). Which wasn’t exactly cool.

Life sucked.

So what did she do?

She sucked it up. It wasn’t an overnight thing. She still has occasional withdrawals. Bad hair days still make her cry. Sometimes she still envies the celebutantes on magazine covers, even though she knows they are all airbrushed images and most of them don’t look even half as good as they appear. And some other times – rarely, but still – she wishes she has all that money to buy things like Sheer Cover and other magical make-up that turns you into a goddess in the flash of a second.

But, while she does want to look good, it’s not for someone else. Not ‘cause she wants someone else to appreciate her. She wants to look good for herself.

And even when she doesn’t look good, it’s okay. It’s okay to paddle in pajamas and bed hair and eat gummy worms and not look like a 100 bucks.

It’s okay to just feel good about yourself. Do things you love, be around people you like.

You don’t have to look perfect.

Sometimes it’s just fine to be imperfectly perfect.


In keeping with Kristen’s request, here’s she in all her imperfect glory. (Heck, even her FB pic is one she took in her pajamas!)
'Post a picture of yourself - sans makeup, fashionable clothing, or a fancy-schmancy hairstyle. A picture of yourself in your PJs, hugging your teddy bear, making a stupid face. A picture of YOU.'

 
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