Thursday, September 30, 2010

Guest Post From The Amazing Cinda Williams Chima!!!

Today, I am truly thrilled to welcome one of my favorite authors to the blog: Cinda Williams Chima. Her new book The Exiled Queen is fantastic and should be added to your shelves ASAP. So, listen in while Cinda tells us about one of her favorite topics, Thieves.

What Is It About Thieves?

The viewpoint characters in my Seven Realms series are archetypes of fantasy fiction.

Raisa ana’Marianna is the princess heir of the queendom of the Fells, the mixed blood product of a troubled marriage between Queen Marianna and Averill Lightfoot Demonai, patriarch of a clan of upland warriors.

Han Alister is a thief and streetgang leader who is trying to go straight. He has a magical legacy, as evidenced by the silver wristcuffs he’s worn since birth. His mother believes that he’s demon-cursed, and there are times that he believes it, too.

A princess and a thief. Why do these fantasy tropes surface over and over again?

The fascination with princesses is understandable, I suppose. They are glamorous and rich and get to dress up and go to parties. Depending on the princess and the story, they may be powerful or not. And, like it or not, princesses are a whole industry these days.

Thieves, on the other hand, live on the down-low. Yet they are often depicted as heroes or, at least, sympathetic characters in mythology, history, film, and literature—from Dickens’s Artful Dodger to the Robin Hood legends, from the French poet-thief Francois Villon to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Thieves in mythology include tricksters such as Loki in Norse mythology and Coyote in Native American stories. One of my favorite thieves in contemporary fantasy fiction is Eugenides, the hero of Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series. He fools everyone--the reader included—but he has a claim to respectability, at least, since he’s the queen’s official thief.

One of my favorite characters in Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic series is a talented thief named Briar, and her Beka Cooper series features the dangerously attractive thief-lord Rasto. Thieves are even a character class in role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons.

In real life, thieves often steal from the poor, because they have ready access to them. Literary thieves steal from the rich and undeserving. I suppose it seems like rough justice to us (especially if they turn around and give to the poor.) In stories, thieves often steal for a noble purpose—to feed a starving family, or to support a rebellion against a tyrant.

Thievery creates conflict—and conflict drives story. As The Demon King opens, Han Alister takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, the High Wizard’s son. That precipitates a whole cascade of disasters that ripples through the entire series.

Nobody wants to read about a marginally-successful, no-account thief. So literary thieves are charming, charismatic, and very, very good at what they do. The archetypical thief follows an honor code of sorts. Even if they reform, they continue to use their thief skills to do good.

Thieves appeal to the rogue in all of us, because they live by their wits, often making fools of their more powerful adversaries. They give hope to the small and unbuff like me. They can get into forbidden places, ferret out secrets, and take risks that we wouldn’t take ourselves. Perhaps we all have a streak of larceny in us. We’re all rule-breakers at heart.

Writer T.N. Tobias discusses the pros and cons of using archetypes in fiction. To go beyond archetype, he suggests that you build the character from the inside out, developing aspects of character such as motivation, purpose, methods, and self-reflection in order to make them rich and believable.

Characters that are layered, flawed, and unpredictable, characters who transform themselves, characters who break the rules—those characters will win us over, archetypes or not.

Why do archetypes exist in fantasy? Because they work so well in story.

The Demon King is now available in paperback, and The Exiled Queen released September 28. There will be four books in the Seven Realms series, followed by two more Heir books.

Excerpts from each of my books are available on my website, Help for writers can be found under Tips for Writers, including a document called, “Getting Started in Writing for Teens.”

I blog at, where you’ll find rants, posts on the craft of writing, and news about me and my books.

Thank you for visiting Cinda and I can't tell you how thrilled I am that there are four books in this series and two more Heir books to come. That news just made my day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The House of Dead Maids by Clare Dunkle Tour Stop and Giveaway!

Today, I have a very special guest, Clare Dunkle, who is touring to promote her awesome book, The House of Dead Maids. Here's what Clare has to say about Wuthering Heights, the inspiration for her book:

Emily Brontë’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights, is as nebulous as a winter cloud. Brontë refuses to guide us; she steps back and leaves her readers free to make up their own minds. Some call her book romantic because of the undying love between Heathcliff and Cathy. Others call it tormented obsession. Some call it a thrilling tale of revenge against injustice; others, a grotesque portrait of a psychopath.

If I had come across Wuthering Heights in my teenage years, I might find Heathcliff’s brooding passion for Cathy attractive. And if I were to read the book for the first time now, I’m sure I would find him repellant. But I first read Heathcliff’s story when I was just a child, so it is the child Heathcliff who has always mattered most to me. When I was little, I noticed each of the injustices done to this unwanted boy, including the selfish cruelty of his foster father, who kept the child as a kind of pet but couldn’t be bothered to provide for his future even though the old man knew he was dying.

The nine-year-old me found Wuthering Heights absolutely terrifying. Much of it was beyond my comprehension, making what I did grasp even more dreadful. I felt as if I were hiding in a closet and watching gang violence unfold in the room right in front of me.

Poor dead Cathy, wandering home after twenty years, gave me the shivers, but I found Lockwood even more awful for the way he treated the little ghost, rubbing her thin arm against broken glass to try to escape her. She was undead, my fourth-grade brain reasoned; she couldn’t help being scary. He was a grown man, an adult, and adults in my world were supposed to help children, even if those children were undead. But the burgeoning storyteller in me tested his reaction and decided that it was probable, so I learned a horrifying life lesson from Lockwood’s heartlessness.

That same heartlessness—selfish adult against helpless child—occurs again and again in the pages of Wuthering Heights. Solemn little bookish child that I was back then, I felt each new outburst of cruelty deeply. And when the mature Heathcliff stands aside to allow poor, ignorant young Hareton a chance at happiness—to me that was not, as some critics have termed it, a clumsy resolution or a tacked-on dénouement. To me, it was the moment of Wuthering Heights.

So it’s no surprise that these are the major themes of my Wuthering Heights prequel, The House of Dead Maids. Two unwanted children enter that labyrinth of a story with only one another to rely on. The ghosts they meet are scary—because how can a ghost help being scary? It’s in the very nature of the undead. But it is the adults in my book, with their selfish callousness, who have the power to terrify. And it is the one brief moment of compassion from an unlikely source that lights up the whole story for me and makes the journey worthwhile.

Amazing, right? And here's what you can win:

Special Brontë-themed giveaway!

One Grand Prize winner will receive The House of Dead Maids, a gorgeous Brontë sisters pocket mirror, and the HarperTeen edition of Wuthering Heights! Two lucky runners-up will receive the two books.

To enter, send an email to with your name, email address, and shipping address (if you're under 13, submit a parent's name and email address). One entry per person and prizes will only be shipped to US or Canadian addresses. Entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on October 31. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on November 1 and notified via email.

If you'd like to catch Clare on her next stop, she'll be popping up on The Neverending Shelf. Stop by and show your love!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In My Mailbox (60)

As always, In My Mailbox is brought to you by Kristi, AKA The Story Siren.

Only one book in my mailbox this week, but I literally squealed when I saw it.

For Review:

The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

Release Date: September 28, 2010 from Hyperion Book CH


You can't always run from danger...

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean danger isn’t far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden's Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

The Exiled Queen is an epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

I know, right?! I loved The Demon King and I've been waiting for this one ever since. I'll also be hosting a stop on Cinda's blog tour at the end of September, so stay tuned for that.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Danger Box by Blue Balliett

Release Date: Available Now from Scholastic Press

Source: Personal Copy


A boy in a small town who has a different way of seeing.

A mischievous girl who won't stay in one place.

A mysterious notebook .

A fire.

A stranger.

A death.

These are some of the things you'll find within The Danger Box, the new mystery from bestselling author Blue Balliett.

It's hard to talk about this book without giving too much away. I've never read Blue Balliett's other books, Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, or The Calder Game. It's one of those series that I've always meant to get around to but never have. I saw The Danger Box at my local B&N and was immediately drawn in by the cover. Yes folks, I in fact do judge books by their covers, and am I ever glad that I did.

The Danger Box is a phenomenal read. It's hard to explain, but a true joy to read. The cast of characters found a place in my heart from page one, especially the central character Zoomy who lives with his grandparents in the small town of Three Oaks, Michigan. Zoomy is one of those kids who is wise beyond his years, and rightfully so. I've met some curious and lovable kids just like him working at the school and they're always my favorites.

Above all, this is a wonderful mystery with a puzzle at its heart. It's full of history, friendship, intrigue and heart. Check out The Danger Box. I think it'll steal your heart like it did mine.

Oh, by the way, I've already bought Chasing Vermeer. It'll be my next read.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Winner, Winner!!

So, this has been awhile coming, but I'm just getting back into the swing of things. The winner of the book Hannah is:


The winner of all three books is:


Congrats Ladies!!

I'll be sending you an e-mail shortly, so get back to me as soon as possible.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (73)--The Devouring #3: Fearscape by Simon Holt

Release Date: October 5, 2010 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers


The Vours: evil, demonic beings that inhabit human bodies on Sorry Night, the darkest hours of the Winter Solstice.

It's been a year since Reggie first discovered the Vours, and the Winter Solstice is approaching once again. It will be another night of unspeakable horror for those unlucky enough to be taken by the Vours, because this time, she won't be able to stop them. The Vours have imprisoned Reggie in a psychiatric hospital, where she is subjected to a daily routine of unfathomably sadistic experiments. Her life is a living Hell, but she won't give up. They attacked her brother. They killed her friend. And Reggie will never stop fighting back.

I really loved the first two books in this series. They're great thrillers that kept me reading well into the wee small hours. Can't wait for this one!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Monster High by Lisi Harrison

Release Date: Available Now from Poppy

Source: From Publisher


And you thought your high school was scary!

Frankie Stein just enrolled at Merston High School in the quiet town of Salem, Oregon. She is looking forward to all that the future holds: rockin' parties, shopping sprees, and, of course, cute boys!

But high school hides a MONSTER of a secret: The fantastically fabulous kids of the world's most famous monsters hand out in plain sight among the "normie" student body!
Even though she was created only fifteen days ago, Frankie is wise enough to know that if her secret gets out, her high school dreams could be as fragile as her not-entirely-secure body parts!

When she meets normie newcomer Melody Carver, who has a crush on a boy from the monster clique, Frankie begins to wonder if Merston HIgh is big enough for monsters and normies to coexist--but is it worth the risk to find out?

What a fabulous book! I never read Lisi Harrison's Clique series. It just never appealed to me, but after reading this one, I think maybe I should have given them a chance. Her writing is quick and witty and her characters are out of this world.

I love the concept behind this book. All the world's famous monsters, from Frankenstein to the Creature from the Black Lagoon, really do exist and live pretty boringly normal lives in Oregon. They just want to fit and, most importantly, they just want their kids to fit in.

Frankie is one of those kids and she's pretty darned awesome. She loves all the things that most girls love, fashion, boys, and hanging out with the girls. Unfortunately, she has more than just the odd pimple to cover with makeup. I loved Frankie and Melody. They were both wonderfully written and really just fun characters to read about.

I laughed a lot while reading this book, but it also makes some pretty important statements about the quest to fit in with the other kids. And what lengths we go to to be considered "normal". I can't recommend Monster High highly enough. It's one of the funnest reads I've read in quite a long while.