Wednesday, June 30, 2010

FIRST NOVELS CLUB REVIEW + GIVEAWAY

It's soooo hard to choose a quote to pull from the stunning review of A BLUE SO DARK that was posted yesterday at First Novels Club!

...I do really like the fact that First Novels highlighted the subplots: Aura's relationships with her best friend, her father, her grandmother..."and the possibility of romance in the midst of all the chaos."

First Novels Club is also hosting a giveaway (running through July 9), so head on over to read the review and enter!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

PUZZLER INTERVIEW + SECRET

Jill at Reading Is Bliss just posted a fun interview...I really had to think about this one. It was almost like working a crossword puzzle about yourself! Check it out below to see what I mean:


Personal:

5 things readers would be surprised to know about you:

1) I will never, never, never pierce my ears.
2) I’m completely blind—my vision’s 20/700!—and while I really do love my glasses these days (I chucked my contacts a few years ago), I’m rarely photographed wearing them.
3) My favorite non-writing gig was working as a model for a floral show—I wore a hideous blue bridesmaid’s dress, but I got to be with some super-cool florists whose bouquets were WAY artistic.
4) I far prefer vintage to new—costume jewelry, instruments, hats—anything that’s already lived a life or two before I acquired it.
5) I really, honestly think dandelions are beautiful.

4 things you wish you knew in high school:

1) Parallel parking never gets any easier. NEVER.
2) Anything in life is bearable if you just keep your sense of humor.
3) Latin will come in handy. Seriously.
4) Those notebooks I doodled poetry and character sketches in throughout high school would turn out to be INVALUABLE as I wrote that first YA novel. (If I could, I’d go back to high school and kiss me for keeping all those notebooks—really helped me reconnect with my teen voice. Might’ve written even MORE back then, if I’d had a way to see into the future…)

3 things you are embarrassed to own / love / have done:

1) Spiral perm, circa ’88.
2) When I was younger, I HATED wearing my glasses. Mom wanted me to be in high school before I started wearing contacts, so I used to pick out the most HIDEOUS frames on the planet, in order to try to guilt my mom into buying me contacts a few years early. Yeah. That didn’t work so well.
3) My brother and I used to make up stories and act them out on cassette tapes when we were kids…My mom has them all in a drawer. It was great fun, but think I might be kind of embarrassed to listen to myself play-act when I was so young…

2 careers you might have chosen if you weren’t an author:

1) Literature professor
2) Lawyer

1 thing you can’t live without:

Coffee, coffee, coffee…

Bookish:

5 words to describe your book:

Does art free or cripple? Okay—that’s vague. I’ll explain:

In A BLUE SO DARK, Aura Ambrose is terrified that her mother, a schizophrenic and an artist, is a mirror that reflects her own future. As the novel progresses, we find Aura struggling with her overwhelming desires to both chase artistic pursuits and keep madness at bay.

As her mother sinks deeper in the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet keeps drawing Aura toward the depths of her imagination—the shadows of make-believe that she finds frighteningly similar to her mother’s hallucinations.

Convinced that creative equals crazy, Aura shuns her art, and her life unravels in the process….

Essentially, for Aura, art and madness are inextricably linked. And there’s no denying that many of our great artists have been both creative AND mad…so, for her, the central question is, DOES ART FREE OR CRIPPLE?

4 reasons you love writing YA:

1) YA literature still respects plot, in a way a lot of literary adult fiction doesn’t.
2) I still feel seventeen—so close to my own teenage experiences.
3) YA encompasses SO many genres—it can be almost anything.
4) YA has the best fans going!

3 reasons everyone should read your book:

1) It’s lyrically written.
2) It’s brimming with realistic characters you will fall in love with and root for.
3) It’ll make you feel…well, everything. You’ll laugh and you’ll think and you’ll cry. I guarantee.

2 YA books you adore:

1 (contemporary) ELSEWHERE, Gabrielle Zevin
2 (classic) CATCHER IN THE RYE , JD Salinger

1 tip for aspiring YA writers:

Don’t take criticism personally, but don’t ignore it, either. Think of it the same way you would if you were, say, trying to fix your lawnmower. I mean, if you spent all afternoon working on it, and it STILL refused to start after you got it put back together, you wouldn’t think the lawnmower was attacking you personally, or telling you that you were stupid or completely inept, right? You’d just think you’d screwed up somewhere. Time to take it apart and start again—no biggie.

Same with a manuscript. Nobody gets it right the first time. And nobody’s born knowing how to write a novel. You learn by doing…and by listening. If an editor (or agent) has taken time out of his / her day to give you advice, that’s a real compliment. Listen. Internalize it. Revise accordingly. And be grateful that someone sees potential in your work!

Every writer gets there eventually…the only way you DON’T is by giving up.

...Little Willow has been running a "secrets" blog series, in which YA authors "spill their guts"...Want to know what I've never admitted out loud before, but am now proclaiming to the entire world? Find out at Bildungsroman...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

BOOK SIGNING

...A fun assortment...









...of pics...




...from my signing at Borders! (I was joined by Jean Stringam, author of THE HOARDERS...)









...And thanks to Sam and Maggie, who have been to all my author events in Springfield!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

REVIEW, INTERVIEW, AND A FOLLOW-UP

...This kind of thing just makes a gal’s day: Brent at The Naughty Book Kitties recently reviewed BLUE, saying, "A lot of times when I read such lyrical, inspiring novels, I feel like quoting from them all the time. Just because… because the lines are so beautiful and such. Well, I’m like, trying to memorize the whole book, so that one day I can quote it all. I know, crazy."

I also really love how he summed up the review: “If you want to read a book so poetic and artistic it makes you feel like finger painting, you should buy A Blue So Dark. And the cover is pretty hot, too.”


…Natalie at Mindful Musings also just posted a fantastic interview, in which she poses such incredible questions as, “Who would be Aura’s favorite artist and why?”


…Patty at Yay! Reads (you can find her review of A BLUE SO DARK here) also posted a really cool interview today…This is my very first follow-up interview, in which I get to talk to a blogger who’s read A BLUE SO DARK. I loved getting a chance to talk to a reader so much, I decided to cross-post the whole shebang:

Patty: After you finished writing A BLUE SO DARK, did Aura’s story end for you or do you know what happens to her after A BLUE SO DARK?

As a reader, when I come to the end of a novel—even a novel that wraps up all the loose ends, nice and neat, big red bow and all…a novel in which the main characters ride off into the sunset, happily ever after—I tend to find myself thinking, AND THEN THEY WOKE UP THE NEXT DAY…

What I mean is, I always think of a novel’s ending as just a pause—a moment to take a deep breath—before the next conflict begins…but that’s just the way LIFE is! We get over one mountain, and barely even get a chance to celebrate before we find ourselves staring straight into the next obstacle we’re going to have to overcome.

I can’t say I have it all mapped out, exactly what would happen to Aura and her mother after the book closes. But they’re obviously not going to have smooth sailing from the novel’s ending on. There will definitely be another mountain for those two, which doesn’t exist on the page…while the book was in development, I found myself constantly imagining new possibilities…


Patty: Do you believe that creativity can lead you to mental illness? Do you think creativity is a way to get OUT of mental illness?

The brain’s a fascinating thing, isn’t it? Even in our modern age, we know so little—and new mysteries crop up all the time: The recent explosion of autism and Alzheimer’s, for example.

Creativity, I think, is every bit as mysterious as mental illness. And I do think the two probably are linked—that’s not to say that I think one leads to another, or one can CURE the other. But I think that spark of inspiration—that end product that an artist can envision? That’s a little like a hallucination, isn’t it? Neither one really exists, except in one person’s mind! Both are figments that only one person can “see.”

I don’t think it’s absurd to think that what the brain does—what neurons fire, etc.—as a creative idea is born is unlike what happens in the brain when a “vision” or hallucination comes to life. I think when we understand creativity completely, we’ll understand mental illness. And vice versa.

Patty: Out of many artists who have suffered mental illness, who are your favorites?

I tend to really be fascinated by the artists who remain mysteries: those we really don’t seem to understand, and maybe never will…van Gogh (who was talked about often in the book), for instance: I don’t even think I can count the articles I’ve read, “definitively” explaining the reason he cut off his ear. I’ve read everything from that he did it for a woman, that he did it over a fight with Gauguin, even that he did it because he suffered from chronic debilitating inner ear infections.

I’m not sure we really understand van Gogh—even though we do have a lot of his writing (in the form of letters to his brother). I think so much of a person is lost the moment they pass away, and once the people who personally KNEW them are gone? The jigsaw just doesn’t ever get put back together…especially for a complicated person like van Gogh.

I think the same of Emily Dickinson—not that she’s an example of a mentally ill artist, but I’ve always been intrigued…because she’s someone we will never understand. We’ll speculate. We’ll all have our own theories of who she was. But there will never be a definitive answer, because so little remains of her life (other than her poetry). There’s something about that—about the never-knowing-for-sure—that just keeps sending me back to her work.

But that might be why I tackled a subject like the possible connection between creativity and mental illness. There is no real answer right now, just speculation…In the case of mental illness, though, there’s every chance that we WILL know, that we WILL unlock the mystery—maybe even in our lifetimes! The idea of that is utterly thrilling…

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

REMINDER AND READER RESPONSE

…I recently received a fantastic question from a super-sharp Springfield reader: “Is Crestview a combination of all five Springfield high schools?”

A BLUE SO DARK is, in fact, set in my hometown of Springfield, MO…and while a handful of Springfield landmarks do show up in the novel, Crestview High is not the name of any of Springfield’s high schools…

Crestview is a fictional school.

While a novel is, by definition, a work of fiction, I think readers have a tendency to try to dig out the “truths” of a novel…For example, one question I was constantly asked while my book was in development was whether I grew up with a mentally ill mother! (Nope—I didn’t.)

I simply chose to give Aura’s high school a fictional name to drive home the point that I wasn’t depicting any specific Springfield high school, or, for that matter, any individual who ever attended or worked for the Springfield Public Schools. The characters in my books are 100% dreamed-up.

(I'm answering specifically here regarding "Crestview," because that was how the question reached me...but really, this goes for the entire book. The locations, buildings, names, etc. in BLUE are ALL used fictitiously.)

...One thing that isn’t dreamed-up is my author signing, scheduled for this Saturday (June 26) at the Borders on Glenstone, right here in Springfield, MO. I’ll be signing copies of A BLUE SO DARK from 1-3 p.m.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Friday, June 18, 2010

TWO FANTASTIC REVIEWS OF A BLUE SO DARK

I wanted to share a couple of incredible reviews for A BLUE SO DARK that went live this week:


Angela at Reading Angel gave the book five butterflies, explaining:



“Such a lyrically beautiful book. You know how sometimes you’ll find a sentence that just speaks to you, and you want to write it down somewhere so you don't forget? Well, almost the entire book was that sentence for me. Holly Schindler just has a way with words, that draws you right into the story and won’t let you go until you’ve devoured every last word…I really felt like I was living Aura’s life with her. I wanted to scream and cry and rant as each event would come to pass.”



And Elie at Ellz Reads summed up the book with these powerful words:



“However it is more that just a story of a family struggling with sickness, the story goes deeper that that. A Blue So Dark is a journey in relationships with others and ones self, it is a story of love and loss, and of self discovery. I would recommend this book to readers of all ages. It is a profound story that will leave you thinking.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

SECOND PRINTING!

Guys! This just in from my editor at Flux: A BLUE SO DARK has gone for a second printing!

The noise that exploded from my mouth at the news went a little something like this:

WAHTUBALOOOOOSI!

Friday, June 11, 2010

WHAT A PLEASANT SURPRISE...


…to wake up and find my book featured in the Life section of my local paper!

Check out the story on Ozarks authors at News-Leader.com

(A BLUE SO DARK is featured in the story photo; a description of the book can be found under “Some Recent Books By Ozarks Authors” on the right-hand sidebar…)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"7 THINGS I'VE LEARNED SO FAR"


...Been waiting for my next writing tip of 2010? A guest post just went live at the Writer's Digest GLA Blog, featuring seven new tips!

Head on over and dig in!

...Update: the GLA blog's having some...technical difficulties. Newer posts had to be removed to speed up the server. Hang tight! The post'll be up soon...

...Update to the update: post is up and running! Okay, now dig in!

Monday, June 7, 2010

FOUR...YUP, FOUR! SHOTS AT WINNING A BLUE SO DARK

Contests amok! In addition to the giveaway currently running at A Good Addiction, the fabulous Jenny B. Jones (I met her at last Saturday's Teen Book Mania) is running a giveaway of a signed copy of BLUE at her own blog...



(Teen Book Mania panel discussion...left to right: Brent Crawford, Brian Katcher, moi, Jenny B. Jones)


Brand spankin' new interviews and giveaways for signed copies also went live today at Number One Novels and Pure Imagination!

Okay, to recap, here's a list of all the current giveaways:


Jenny B. Jones: Contest ends this Thursday! (June 10). This link also includes fantastic shots and the lowdown on Saturday's Mania...

Number One Novels: Contest ends June 13.

A Good Addiction: Contest ends June 20.

Pure Imagination: Contest ends June 21.

...Enter 'em all...good luck!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

TEEN BOOK MANIA

My very first event as a published author (Teen Book Mania at my very own Library Center here in Springfield) was a blast! I was joined by three other fantastic authors: Brent Crawford, Brian Katcher, and Jenny B. Jones...

I wanted to share a snippet of our panel discussion...Here, we're all answering the question, "What was the earliest (positive) recognition of your writing?"

I love the way our answers to this question really showcase who we all are: that I picked up writing shortly after birth (and, as an eleven-year-old, was serious enough about it to enter a writing contest for adults), that Jenny Jones has one of the best senses of humor ever, that Brian Katcher didn't get into writing until his twenties (love his open-mindedness and what he says about revision here), and that Brent Crawford's writing is tied into his acting background...

Thanks to Sarah (GreenBeanTeenQueen), and everyone at The Library Center for such an incredible afternoon...

Enjoy the snippet! (I'm the first author to answer the question, followed by Jenny Jones, then Brian Katcher, and Brent Crawford.)

video

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