Posts Categorized: Guest Post

Zoe Cruz on Flipping the Script on the Traditional Beauty and the Beast | Author Guest Post

March 20, 2017 Guest Post 0

Welcome to my stop along the Beastia blog tour, hosted by Smith Publicity! We’ve all got Beauty and the Beast on the brain right now (I’m going to see it today in theaters!). Plus my A Week of Beauty and the Beast event ended yesterday, so things are all B&B in my neck of the wood it seems.

Beastia author, Zoe Cruz, is here to talk about her Beauty and the Beast retelling. This one is a little different than many other retellings, and I’ll let Zoe tell you why!


Flipping the Script on the Traditional Beauty and the Beast
by Zoe Cruz

Beauty and the Beast has always enchanted me as a reader. I grew up watching the Disney movie, because who hasn’t? Robin McKinely’s retellings really stick out in my mind. Her Rose Daughter and Beauty were some of my favorite books as a kid. She wrote them with such magic and intrigue, changing and adding details or the outcome entirely. I always remember in one of the books, Beauty doesn’t change the Beast. She loves him just as he is.

When I watched Beastly, the movie, several years ago I wasn’t quite satisfied with the modern retelling. I thought it needed something more. The book by Alex Flinn does a much better job providing that, but I wanted something deeper, different. Later, the Lunar Chronicles gave us Scarlet. I know it’s a Red Riding Hood retelling, but what’s cooler than a French girl falling for a genetically modified wolfman from the moon? In the end though, it was the same trope hashed out again.

As a girl from a small town, I’ve watched pretty women settle for guys who weren’t that great looking, so it wasn’t a stretch for me to imagine a girl falling into a relationship with a literal beast.

What was harder for me to imagine was a handsome guy falling for an “ugly” gal in our society and not the pretty-ugly sorts we find in movies. It was a challenge coming up with a contemporary take on a girl being ugly. It seemed easy to make it magical or a temporary curse, but life isn’t always that way.

Sometimes, when we are hurt it becomes internal baggage that we carry or a permanent badge that we wear. Some things don’t just go away. They are permanent. When I think of permanent, I think of scars or burns, but something about tattoos stuck with me, because tattoos are like art. Art can be ugly and beautiful at the same time. That dichotomy tests the boundaries of my perceptions and how biased the standards truly are. When a woman has scarring or a deformity or even a tattoo that we don’t appreciate at first, the more we look at that thing we perceive as ugliness, it can become tragically beautiful, and even just beautiful. Especially as we learn to love the qualities who make them who they are. Rather, those things we once considered bad or ugly only make them more special no matter what it is. Some of the most beautiful people I know have facial markings or unusual features that make them who they are.

That’s what I wanted for Bek, my character in Beastia: a girl with a tragic past that wouldn’t let the world define who she was going to be, because of the way she looked. I wanted her to be able to learn to love herself no matter how she looked on the outside, even if it was permanent. In life, we don’t always get to choose for bad things to disappear. We are the way we were born or something happened to us and we carry that with us. Not everyone is blessed with good looks and what are “good” looks anyway? It’s an unattainable standard and subjective. Every one of us deserves to be loved for who we are and not what we look like, but that journey must start from within.


Beastia by Zoe Cruz
March 14, 2017 from Createspace
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

The meanest of the mean girls, Rebekah Austin rules her Chicago school with sharp outfits and an even sharper tongue. She has a way of making even the most beautiful and brilliant girls in her class feel like dirt. But underneath the queen-bee façade is someone who feels ugly, repulsive…beastly.

When Rebekah falls prey to a madman, the bully becomes the bullied. Scarred and tormented, she abandons her previous life and adopts a new identity, but her ghastly appearance haunts her everywhere she goes. Only with the help of determined friends can she move past her horrifying experience—and maybe even let herself be loved.

And if the madman returns to finish what he started, will she be ready, or will she give up hope?


About Zoe Cruz

I love traveling, writing, reading, and binge watching my favorite shows on Netflix.

I’m a geek too. Anything from classic Tortallan and Hobbit lore to a DS9 Trekkie and a Browncoat. I love any good sci-fi and fantasy book, show or movie.

I’ve lived in Spain for almost four years, so adapting back to U.S. life for now.


Gabrielle Prendergast on “X” Meets “Y” Retellings | Author Guest Post

March 19, 2017 Guest Post 1

 

Welcome to the last day of A Week of Beauty and Beast, a special blog event hosted by Bonnie at A Backwards Story and me! We thought this would be the perfect time to host an event devoted to one of our favorite fairy tales, seeing as how Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast came out in theaters on Friday! Woohoo! We’ve really loved sharing our love of this tale as old as time with you, and hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! Make sure you enter to win a Beauty and the Beast themed book of your choice. And if you want to join in on the fun, link up your B&B themed posts so we can come see!

Today I’m pleased to welcome Gabrielle Prendergast to the blog to talk about her Beauty and the Beast retelling, Zero Repeat Forever.


X Meets Y Retellings by Gabrielle Prendergast

In the book business we have a thing called “comps”. “Comps” is short for comparables, and it refers to what other books (or sometimes movies) that a book under discussion would be compared to. So an author, say, pitching a book to an agent might explain: “It’s got the sweet romance of Stargirl but in a dystopian setting like Divergent” (I would read this!)

Sometimes comps are simply expressed like “It’s ______ meets ______” or “part ______ and part ______”. And this is where this week’s Beauty and the Beast theme comes in because my upcoming young adult sci-fi, Zero Repeat Forever, is frequently described as “Part Terminator and part Beauty and the Beast”. It’s also been described as “The 5th Wave meets Beauty and the Beast”. It is, in many ways, a Beauty and the Beast retelling.

My favorite kinds of fairy tale or traditional story retellings are always ones that have a “X meets Y” premise. And the further X is from Y the better, in my opinion. Only imagine the possibilities! I’d love to read “Cinderella meets Clan of the Cave Bear” for example. A prehistoric prince and his enchanted mystery princess? Are you kidding me? That would be awesome. Or how about “Scheherazade meets High Fidelity” about a plucky Muslim teen who keeps her disgruntled record store boss amused with stories so he doesn’t close down his failing business. (OMG someone please write this).

I could go on and on about this, but I’m at risk of coming up with premises I want to actually write. And I have a deadline on the sequel to Zero Repeat Forever. I need to focus!

What X meets Y retellings would you like to read?


Zero Repeat Forever by Gabrielle Prendergast
August 29, 2017 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.

Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.

His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.

Until a human kills her…

Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance.

Shelter in place.

Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have?

Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.

Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival comes to depend on trusting each other…


About Gabrielle Pendergrast

Gabrielle Prendergast is the author of the award-winning and multi-nominated young adult novels in verse, Audacious and Capricious. She lives in Canada with her family. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleSaraP or her website www.gabrielleprendergast.com.


Growing Up with Beauty and the Beast | Blogger Guest Post

March 13, 2017 Guest Post 3

 

I’m so excited to have one of my co-bloggers from The Broke and the Bookish, Kimberly, here on the blog today to help us celebrate our love of Beauty and the Beast!


Growing Up with Beauty and the Beast
by Kimberly from The Broke and the Bookish

Hello everyone! I am so excited to do a guest post, especially when it has to do with one of my all-time favorite things… BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

Story time! When I was a kid I never wanted to talk about who my favorite Disney princess was. Because any time someone found out it was Belle, they’d make fun of me. Looking back on this now I’m even more confused. Why did all of those kids hate her so much? She’s still my absolute favorite! Now I have many friends, online and off, that adore Beauty and the Beast. Getting to fangirl with others is pure joy.

Let’s talk a bit about Beauty and the Beast and a few of the adaptations, shall we? Let’s start with what my introduction to the story was (as I’m sure it was for many others).

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991)

*sigh* Even the opening sequence of this movie gets me all teary eyed. The animation is gorgeous, the music is perfect. Within moments of meeting Belle we know she’s a bookworm. (This was the moment I bonded with her, even at an early age.) Pretty soon we’re deep in the story. Belle has exchanged her freedom to save her father. She is doomed to live out her life with a tyrant… Or is she? The character development is beautiful. The Beast changes, but so does Belle. They defeat Gaston, break the spell and the castle undergoes a spectacular transformation. (Still one of my favorite bits of animation.)

Beauty and the Beast (Broadway)

I was in the ensemble for this in High School! SO MUCH FUN. The story is the same, but with little extra bits here and there. The relationship between Belle and her father is expanded. They have a lovely little song together, “No Matter What”, where they acknowledge that they are both odd, but there is no one else they’d rather spend time with. The enchanted objects have their own song “Human Again” (which was later added back to the original animated classic). The story behind the curse also gets greater detail. They weren’t just changed into household objects. They are slowly becoming less and less sentient. Losing mobility bit by bit.

One of the most priceless bits of dialogue is when they are discussing some of the other objects. They become objects that resemble their personality. Michelle became the wardrobe, and then Jean Claude…
Lumiere: “And poor Jean Claude. You remember him, not too bright, dumb as a…”
Cogsworth: “Brick?”
Lumiere: “The whole wall.”

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
Published April 1, 2014 from Strange Chemistry
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For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time…

But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for…

This was such a fun read! It starts off as a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast and then goes off in its own amazing direction! There are a few references throughout the book that ties it back to the original, which is delightful. Great characters and excellent world building. Tristan is swoon worthy and Cecile is the type of heroine I can get behind! Plus the ensemble characters are wonderful. I definitely recommend it!

And…


Beauty and the Beast (2017)

I don’t have much to say on this yet, other that I am SO FREAKING EXCITED. I have loved all of Disney’s live action remakes and I really think this one will be wonderful. I get embarrassingly teary eyed every time I watch the trailer. (I’m pregnant, that’s a good enough excuse…right?) I am counting down the days until I see this.

What are some of your favorite Beauty and the Beast adaptations?


Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh, My! by Merrie Destefano | Author Guest Post (+ Lost Girls Giveaway)

January 4, 2017 Giveaway, Guest Post 8

Today I’m welcoming Merrie Destefano, author of Lost Girls, to the blog to talk a little about her experience writing her book! I am SUPER excited to read Merrie’s new book and plan to real soon. Read more about Merrie and her book after her post, plus enter to win a copy of Lost Girls for yourself!


Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh, My!
by Merrie Destefano

Sometimes the process of writing is like being knee-deep in The Wizard of Oz. Have you ever seen that movie? It’s always been one of my favorites. In fact, when I was five-years-old, I went though this period where I would only answer to the name of Glinda. (Remember her? The good witch?) I also had an imaginary friend who was a bubble—like that crazy, magic bubble Glinda traveled in.

But writing is nothing like the character of Glinda. That girl knew what she was doing. She had All The Power. If she was writing, she’d just snap her fingers and, POW, a story would appear. It would be perfect.

No, writing is more like being the character of Dorothy. Lost, confused, angry, lonely, worried, and yet somehow being on a Very Important Mission the whole time.

And like Dorothy, there might be a point that you realize the other characters surrounding you are an awful lot like people you really know. You don’t set out to do that. It just kind of happens.

Like Dylan McCarthy in Lost Girls.

At first, I was just adding a love interest for my main character. But before I knew it, Dylan started wearing a skin that look a LOT like a Real Life Boy I had crushed on in seventh grade. My real-life crush sat next to me in English. (Swoon.) He. Was. Adorable. And he wrote poetry that could stop your heart. And then start it thundering again.

I swear, even our teacher had a crush on that boy.

And yes, I did drop my pencil once and he reached down to pick it up. But I was too embarrassed to let him do that. I dove faster than I thought I could move and snatched it up from the floor before he could get it.

I may have foiled my own chance at romance.

Maybe. Maybe he might have. In another world and in another universe, maybe, just maybe he might have picked up that blasted pencil and given me a smile. Just like Dylan did with Rachel. Maybe it could have been the beginning of something wonderful.

Maybe.

Meanwhile, I keep writing stories where maybe actually becomes true. That’s the best way for any story to end.

Maybe Dorothy will get to go home again…

Change that.

Dorothy goes home and all is well. She even gets to keep her little dog.


Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano
January 3, 2017 from Entangled Teen
Genres: YA contemporary, YA psychological thriller, YA dark contemporary
Add to Goodreads | Amazon

Yesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grammy’s quilt, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life.

She doesn’t recognize the person she’s become: she’s popular. She wears nothing but black.

Black to cover the blood.

And she can fight.

Tell no one.

She’s not the only girl to go missing within the last year…but she’s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls.

But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad, sex, drugs, and raves, and something darker…something she still craves—the rush of the fight, the thrill of the win—something she can’t resist, that might still get her killed…

The only rule is: There are no rules.


About Merrie Destefano

Born in the Midwest, magazine editor Merrie Destefano currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat, and the occasional wandering possum. Her favorite hobbies are reading speculative fiction and watching old Star Trek episodes, and her incurable addiction is writing. She loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies, and listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time.

Website | Blog | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

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Alyssa Susanna’s Holiday Baking Bonanza | Book Blogger Guest Post

December 23, 2016 Guest Post 2

Today I’m welcoming one of my very good book blogging friends, Alyssa Susanna (of The Eater of Books), to the blog to share her holiday baking traditions! I love how she and her mother enjoy baking together each year,and that they’ve melded American Christmas customs with Trinidadian ones! You might want to grab some treats of your own before reading this post because it’s sure to make you hungry!


Alyssa Susanna’s Holiday Baking Bonanza

Hello friends! Today I’m sharing something near and dear to my heart – my holiday baking traditions! Well, traditions that my mother and I keep. My family and I are Trinidadian, so we do a mix of “American” baked goods, and Trinidadian baked goods. Next year if I’m fortunate, Jana might let me come back, and I’ll share what a Trinidadian Christmas is like! But for now, dessert! Please note – while we do make all of these, we give away at least half, to family and friends! Also note – my mother is the mastermind here. I love baking, and I always have a hand in the holiday baking, but my mom is the genius.

So, here we go! Up first:

Trinidadian Christmas Fruit Cake

 

This is different from your usual fruit cake! It has raisins, currants, prunes, cherries, walnuts, Trinidad White Oak Rum. It’s often a favorite in the house, especially when all the Trini relatives come over!

 

Peanut Butter Crinkles

 

These are fairly “American”, but we love them because they are really easy to make, and the chocolate center is delicious! When you get the texture of the cookie right, it’s dreamy.

 

Tropical Nut Cookies

 

These are a classic, and a “secret family recipe”. My mother adapted a recipe she got from a lady in church, about twenty years ago. These are the most sought-after cookies that we make! My mother and I usually make four to six dozens! These disappear very quickly.

 

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

 

These are simple and so addicting! Melted milk chocolate chips, melted white chocolate chips, and Christmas-y sprinkles, if you want. Unfortunately they do take some time and the yield isn’t high, but these are perfect to snack on while watching the Christmas football games.

 

Peppermint Bark

 

These are simple and so addicting! Melted milk chocolate chips, melted white chocolate chips, and Christmas-y sprinkles, if you want. Unfortunately they do take some time and the yield isn’t high, but these are perfect to snack on while watching the Christmas football games.

 

Chocolate Fudge

 

Chocolate fudge is another one of the baked goods that we don’t love, but we make it to supplement what we give away. It IS tasty but so sweet! You need it in small doses.

We make MANY more different types of cookies, but I’ll round off with my favorite…

 

Snowball Cookies!

 

I love these! They are petite and so yummy. I love them so much, I’m going to share the recipe with you! I have been using this Nestle recipe that I found in the local grocery store, about ten years ago. So it’s Nestle’s recipe! Enjoy.

Ingredients:

1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1¾ cups chocolate chips/holiday shapes/morsels
½ cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
Powdered sugar

Instructions:

PREHEAT oven to 375°F.
BEAT butter, sugar, vanilla extract and salt in large mixer bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in flour; stir in morsels and nuts. Shape level tablespoons of dough into 1¼-inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are set and lightly browned. Remove from the oven. Sift powdered sugar over the hot cookies on baking sheets. Cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely on wire racks or wax paper.

Thanks for indulging! I hope you all have a wonderful (and sweet!) holiday season. In the comments, share some of your favorite holiday treats!


Christmas Sweets for My Sweeties | Book Blogger Guest Post

December 22, 2016 Guest Post 2

Today I’m welcoming my friend Brooke (of Brooke Reports) to the blog! Brooke has one of the cutest Christmas posts ever, and I’m so delighted she chose this topic! I remember baking/buying yummy treats and doorbell ditching them on my the front porches of my highschool crushes. Have you ever done that? Brooke is pairing up some of her book boyfriends with a yummy holiday treat… recipes included!


Sweets for My Sweeties
by Brooke at Brooke Reports

Okay, so originally I was going to write a post about all the fictional boys that I’d love to kiss under the mistletoe….but the list ended up being six pages long—so I scratched that.

Then I thought, oh! I know, a shorter list would totally be, “fictional characters I’d pair up together under the mistletoe.” But—I got WAY too jealous over my near perfect matches :P

So, I decided to go a much sweeter route—a post I like to call “Sweets for my Sweeties.” These hunks can spice up any holiday, here are some recipes inspired by some of my favorites!

 

Four from the Divergent Series

Holiday Oreo Cookie Balls

He’s a tough guy on the outside, like a hard chocolate shell if you will, but a big softie on the inside.



Fowler from Reign of Shadows

Peanut Butter Blossoms

This boy. I could eat him up. He is an absolute dream. He faces so many struggles. He is layered and full of surprises just like a Peanut Butter Blossom.

 

Logan from Defiance

Gingerbread Cookies

He is into Rachel. She is a redhead. Do you see where I’m going with this holiday treat? Gingerbread it is!

 

Adam Wilde from If I Stay

Cut Out Sugar Cookies

Where is this swoony-singer?! What are him and Mia up to? I this all American boy is baking up some sugar cookies with his favorite girl this season.

 

Julian from Caraval

Salted Caramels

He is sexy and sweet and complicated and he is the epitome of decadence. Sea Salt Caramels. Yes. Right?! Yes.

 

Ren from Nightshade

Peppermint Bark

Throwing it back to the old school bad boy, Ren from Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. He is spicy and sweet and definitely has a little bite to his bark! Peppermint bark!

What sweets would you give your sweeties?


Cooke’s Twelfth Night | Saving Hamlet Christmas Bonus by Molly Booth

December 19, 2016 Guest Post 0

A big Christmassy welcome to Molly Booth, 2016 debut author of Saving Hamlet! I was so excited when Molly told me her idea for A Bookish Little Christmas because I LOVE time travel and I really loved this idea of having Cooke (a guy from Elizabethan England) write a letter to Emma (our modern-day main character) during Christmastime in his time. Seriously, how fun is this?


Cooke’s Twelfth Night
by Molly Booth

It is London, late 1601. Alexander Cooke, actor at the Globe Playhouse, prepares to play a new role with Shakespeare and the Chamberlain’s Men. He sorely misses his futuristic friend, Emma Allen. Unsure how to feel better, he fitfully writes her a letter.

My Dearest, Em

Emma, Emma, wherefore art thou, Emma? Deny thy time and refuse thy name. Though in sooth, I love thy real name, even if it doth keep us parted. My friend, much time hath passed since I last saw thee. The sun riseth, and I miss thee. It seteth, and I miss thee more. I write this letter to ease my aching mind — my heart, I fear, groweth so weary and cold there is naught to do for comfort.

I fear, also, that I am growing too dramatic.

Our company hath abandoned our Globe for the season, and we play indoors, lit by candle light. Master Shakespeare hath written a new play, “What You Will,” and I know thou wouldst like it. ’Tis a comedy, but if it twere a stream, the river bed would be of tragedy. We rehearse madly, for in a fortnight, we play for Queen Elizabeth and the Italian Duke Orsini. Art thou impressed?

I play a young woman, Viola, grieving for the loss of her twin brother. She disguiseth herself as a young lord to work for the Duke Orsino (Master Shakespeare flatters our Italian visitor with great subtlety). Naturally, Viola falleth in love with Orsino, and once again, the play ends with my marriage to Burbage.

I remember thee, when I am Viola. I remember thy spirit, thy clumsy, gentle ways. I remember thy grief after Master Wick’s passing. I feel the grief that bears down in my breast when I think of how we are parted. It feels wrong, though I know a shift in time cannot be right?

How shall I send this letter? Down a trap door? Up through heaven? By thunderstorm? By cannon?

Like all of Master Shakespeare’s plays, there is truth and beauty in this new one that bring tears and comfort:

O time, thou must untangle this, not I. It is too hard a knot for me to un’tie.

O — thou must knowest this play, as thou knowest all secrets of our future. So, couldst thou send us the final title? Master Shakespeare hath just discovered that another playwright hath new a play also called “What You Will.” He is not pleased.

I prithee. Do not stay away so long.

Cooke

Copyright © Molly Booth 2016


Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth
November 1, 2016 from Disney-Hyperion
Add to Goodreads | Amazon

I wanted sophomore year to be different, but this was a little much.

Emma Allen couldn’t be more excited to start her sophomore year. Not only is she the assistant stage manager for the drama club’s production of Hamlet, but her crush Brandon is directing, and she’s rocking a new haircut that’s sure to get his attention. But soon after school starts, everything goes haywire. Emma’s suddenly promoted to stage manager, her best friend, Lulu, stops talking to her, and Josh—the sweet soccer player who’s been cast as the lead—turns out to be a disaster. It’s up to Emma to fix it all, but she has no clue where to start.

One night after rehearsal, Emma stays behind to think through her life’s latest crises and distractedly falls through the stage’s trap door…landing in the basement of the Globe Theater.

It’s London, 1601, and with her awesome new pixie cut, everyone thinks Emma’s a boy—even Will Shakespeare himself. Dropped into the middle of the original production of Hamlet, Emma gamely plays her role as backstage assistant, jumping at the chance to experience theatre history and rub shoulders with legends. But the Globe’s Hamlet has its own problems, and once Emma starts traveling back and forth through time, things get really confusing. In which reality does she belong? And can she possibly save two epically tragic productions of Hamlet before time runs out?


About Molly Booth

Molly Booth grew up homeschooled in Massachusetts with her four boisterous siblings. She stage managed for three different community theatres in high school. Her first college was Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown, MA; she then went on to study writing, literature, and Elizabethan history on a very cold hill at Marlboro College in Vermont. There, she wrote the first drafts of Saving Hamlet, her debut novel, coming 11/1/16 from Disney Hyperion. Her second book, Nothing Happened, will be coming spring 2018.

Molly also writes for The Mary Sue, and sometimes other sites like HelloGiggles, The Tempest, and McSweeney’s.  She spends most of her time snuggling her adorable dog Suzie, pet rats Meg and Marigold, and Harriet the queen cat.

Website | Twitter | Facebook


Mary E. Pearson’s Christmas Traditions | Author Guest Post

December 15, 2016 Guest Post 0

Mary E. Pearson is one of my very favorite authors (I LOVED The Kiss of Deception), so I was delighted when she accepted my request for a Christmas guest post this month!

This is not the first time Mary has guest posted on my blog. Did you see the post about the world of the Remnant Chronicles that she wrote for the Beauty of Darkness blog tour earlier this year? She posted some REALLY pretty pictures! Anyway, today we get to read about Mary’s Christmas traditions! She even included a really yummy sounding recipe. :)


Mary E. Pearson’s Christmas Traditions

“The tradition I had eschewed was now all that sustained me. I lifted my hands to the gods, but my songs flowed from that which was memorized to something new, utterances of another tongue . . . my voice rose, braided with the words of a thousand years . . . a prayer woven not of sounds alone, but of stars and dust and evermore.” –The Kiss of Deception

 

Tradition. The Christmas holiday is rich with it.

At the beginning of the Remnant Chronicles, Lia spurned tradition. I understand that. As we are growing into adulthood and making our own choices, we don’t want our decisions hampered by the expectation, “but this is how we have always done it.” Yes, we do need to sometimes break tradition! Finding new ways of doing things is what keeps our world vibrant and fresh and growing in positive ways. And yet . . .

There is a common history in tradition too, and the best of traditions can recall our past, help us to slow down and reflect even as we are bustling forward, and at no other time of the year, does tradition slow down the speeding train, help me reflect, and bring me more comfort than at Christmas. Sometimes those traditions can be something as simple as baking a cookie, hanging a particular ornament, looking at twinkling lights, singing a carol, watching a Christmas movie I’ve seen a hundred times, or hearing the jingle of a bell outside a store with a red bucket filling with donations, and the message, Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.

Yes, sometimes the memories are bittersweet too—I am reminded of a death, a lost relationship, or profound changes in the world just since the previous holiday, but the same tradition that can cause bittersweet pause can also help me take a breath, regroup, and gain strength for the challenges of a coming year. Making plans to move forward also requires grounding.

In The Kiss of Deception, when Lia was at her lowest point, in the middle of a battlefield facing unfathomable loss, she returned to traditions she had shunned, drawing strength from them in her own unique way, honoring the past while at the same time, vowing to change the future. The traditions gave her grounding and a sense of direction.

Almost twenty years ago, my father passed away just before Christmas. My mother died just a few short years later. They had both loved Christmas and always made a big deal of it and their presence was sorely missed those first holidays without them. As families grow, and blend, and change, new traditions are born, but our family still carries on many of the traditions my parents passed on to us, as their parents had to them, and every year those traditions give me moments of joy, bittersweet pause, and also comfort. I reflect on them as I stir a bowl of fudge, balance on a ladder hanging lights, or address a holiday card, thinking of Christmases past, when times were different, for both better and worse.

One particular holiday tradition that seemed to be uniquely my mother’s was making a holiday treat that wasn’t traditional at all. It wasn’t fudge, or a decorated sugar cookie, or a spiced mulled wine. It was something she called Corn Flake Chews. Yep, nothing fancy about it. But the stranger thing is, it’s made with peanut butter, and yes, corn flakes, neither of which I like, but it is one holiday treat that somehow works a strange Christmas magic to make me love and devour them. It mystifies even me.

Every year as I make up a batch I think of my mother and how small sweet miracles can happen, and that reminds me larger miracles can happen too, and I lick the spoon and reflect, and regroup, and am filled with gratitude for small humble treats, and tradition.

And so with that thought, I’d like share, from my household to yours, this simple but grand holiday sweetness that I promise will be devoured by one and all.

 

Christmas Corn Flake Chews

1 Cup sugar
1 Cup light corn syrup

1 Cup chunk peanut butter
6 Cups Corn Flakes
1/2 Cup chopped Red and Green M&M’s

(or double this whole recipe like I do—it is that yummy)

Bring the first two ingredients just to boil (do not overcook!) Remove from heat and blend in the peanut butter, stirring until smooth. Pour mixture over corn flakes and stir until flakes are well-coated. Sprinkle in chopped M&Ms (reserve 2T for later)

Pour and spread evenly into greased pan. Sprinkle top with reserved M&Ms. Use a sheet of wax paper to lightly press warm mixture down so it is even in pan. Cool, cut into 1or 2 inch squares, and enjoy!

I wish you all a happy holiday filled with traditions old and new, miracles both large and small, and quiet moments of reflection that will strengthen you for the coming year.

And always the refrain, Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.

xo,
Mary


About Mary E. Pearson

Mary E. Pearson is the award-winning author of The Jenna Fox Chronicles, The Miles Between, A Room on Lorelei, and Scribbler of Dreams.  She writes full-time from her home office in California where she lives with her husband and two golden retrievers.

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Five Amazing Gift Ideas for Writers | Book Blogger Guest Post (+ Giveaway)

December 14, 2016 Bookish Finds, Giveaway, Guest Post 12

I am beyond excited to have Bonnie from A Backwards Story on the blog today to present her ideas for writer gifts. It’s easy to buy bookworms presents: Barnes & Noble or Amazon gift cards, pretty copies of books they love, accessories with books on them, items with book/reading quotes on them… etc. But what do you get a writer? Enter Bonnie! She has some wonderful ideas for you, and I’m so excited to share them with you.


Gift Ideas for Writers
By Bonnie at A Backwards Story

Are you looking for the perfect gift for a writer in your life?

As a fellow writer, I know we aren’t an easy bunch to shop for! We ask for strange things like our favorite brand of pen or correction pencil (or for us old-fashioned hand-writers in the bunch, even fun journals/notebooks!), and our friends and family stare at us like we’re crazy because, really, who wants pencils for Christmas?

THIS GIRL, for one!

But there are a lot of other cool gift ideas that are fun, affordable, and surprising!

Here are five gift ideas for writers–and as an extra special bonus, there’s a discount code for one of the gifts from Storiarts AND a chance to win another gift from Evie Seo!

Keep reading to hear more!!!

 

1. Idea Books

I found the two of these last year and thought they were the coolest, especially the BRIGHT IDEAS one because it’s COLOR CODED. Think of it like an already-prepped Bullet Journal, but easier to get to if you don’t color in tabs for yourself because you can just flip to the color for the the section you want. There are sections for hot ideas, wisps of dreamy memories, and more!

And the other one is just fun because, really, ideas can be evil, too. I mean, some authors ENJOY killing their darlings, right!? Well, okay, and it just helps you organize your ideas that you jot down on the train as you commute to work. Was it a good idea? A bad one? Not sure yet? There’s a spot to comment at the bottom!!)

(BRIGHT IDEAS: ISBN 978-1-4521-3914-2)
(EVIL SCHEMES: ISBN 8-25703-12160-5)

 

2. Writing Gloves

I don’t know about anyone else, but my hands get COLD when I’m writing in the winter. And cramp up. Since I write by hand, that’s not good at all! Thankfully, if I’m on my computer, I get a little bit of computer heat if I’m plugged in. But what about when I’m not?

I’m obsessed with these gloves by Storiarts and really want to pick up a pair for myself. (I’m torn between the Alice in Wonderland pair and the Peter Pan pair and just can’t make up my mind! I meant to ask for them for Christmas this year, but forgot…oops!!)

I have a lot of fingerless gloves, but the knit ones so easily found at stores can be scratchy, and they usually don’t have the thumb cut out.

What attracts me to the Storiarts Gloves is the way they’re more cottonish and will feel like a regular article of clothing. PLUS the thumbs are cut out. AND they have bookish references! #winwin

Ready to see these gloves in action?

From text to cool designs such as white rabbits and pixies, there’s always something to stare at while you’re wearing these gloves!

The gloves retail at $26, BUT Storiarts is so fantastic, that they’re giving out a special discount for our readers!!!

If you want these gloves–for yourself or a friend–
add discount code

ThatArtsyReaderGirl

(it’s not case sensitive!) to get 10% off your purchase!

This code is valid once per customer through the month of December!

If you order by December 19th, you’re guaranteed to have US Delivery in time for Christmas/Chanukah!

 

3. Story Cubes

Turn writing into a game! Especially when Writer’s Block is running rampant.

I saw Rory’s Story Cubes at the store recently, and thought they were adorable! Not to mention fun. And there are different packs, so whether you’re writing a novel about traveling to a foreign country or having a daring adventure, there’s something for every writer.

The pair I own, however, is wooden, and just has an old-fashioned, quaint, whimsical feel that I love as a fantasy writer, the Magic and Fairy-Tale Dice. You can special order it locally from stores such as Barnes and Noble, or buy it online from places such as Amazon (Though if you can support a local business and keep them around, that’s always personally my first go-to! The ISBN is 978-1856699198). My copy came from a Japanese bookstore in New York City called Kinokuniya.

What’s cool about this game is the fact that it’s not JUST a game. It can also be used as a tool for writers. Having writer’s block or looking for a cool element to include in the WIP you’re outlining? Throw some dice, invent a few words, and see where you wind up!

Additionally, this is a fun game to play with your friends, or even with kids, and it will never be the same story twice.

The game’s tagline is:

Revive the art of storytelling using these nine beautifully illustrated wooden dice to create the most imaginative, funny, and bizarre stories. This is the perfect family game that will stimulate the imaginations of children and adults alike. Ideal for playing by a log fire.

Here’s an old video review I did featuring the Magic and Fairy-Tale Dice:

These dice double as a game that can be played with friends and family members. Plus, they’re small and portable, and great to bring along on long car rides!

 

4. Writers actually DO like pens and notebooks!
There is no such thing as “too many!”

I’ve always LOVED getting notebooks and pens as gifts. I often see Kooky pens at A.C. Moore’s and Hallmark, and sometimes buy them even now. Pens with cute designs or pencils with interesting erasers are unique and fun, too. I always save the most interesting writing instruments for special occasions. When I was younger, I collected sets of Lisa Frank pens and wrote with them most frequently. (Does Lisa Frank even still exist? IDK!)

Fun notebooks with cute designs are inspirational, too. I’d rather pick up something with a design over a plain cover notebook any day, especially if it’s reminiscent of the project I’m working on.

Now, I know a lot of writers type and don’t write by hand, but it doesn’t mean they don’t still need to jot down ideas from time to time! Especially small, compact notebooks that fit into a purse. Or what if they’re at work and don’t want to whip out their computer at lunch? My one co-worker (Who just won NaNoWriMo 2016!!!) writes in her notebook every day at lunch. To her, every free minute is a writing minute!

 

5. Pen and Pencil Holders

Where are you going to put all those cute, fancy pens? Whether you’re a writer or a student, you’re going to want a cute case, right?

Until recently, I had no clue of where to go to find a cute case. I always looked during Back to School, but everything was plain or too kiddie.

Luckily, I was gifted a pouch by a publisher, and another by my awesome #OTSPSecretSister:

(I have no clue where my Sister got that case, but see all those zippers? It has THREE compartments to hold stuff. It’s amazing and my favorite thing ever!!!)

But not every writer can have a great pouch just fall into their laps.

That’s where great online shops such as Etsy and RedBubble come into play! My favorite shop belongs to Evie Seo, whose mugs, tote bags, and other book-themed offerings have made social media waves. If you’ve ever been to a big bookish event such as YALL or BookCon, you’ve probably seen at least one person sporting Evie’s designs!

Evie’s Studio Pouches make the PERFECT writing utensil bags for writers! (They also make great cosmetic bags!)

They come in Medium and Large sizes. The medium is a perfectly sized pencil pouch, while the larger one can also be a book sleeve in addition to all the utensils it can fit inside!

Here are some great examples of these stylish bags at work:

Can you see why Evie’s designs are my favorites!?

I love that she can be very fairy tale-ish and full of whimsy, or super bookish with quotes from favorite novels! There’s definitely something for everyone in her shop!

How about a GIVEAWAY!?

To make this holiday season even better for the writer in your life (or yourself, if you’re a writer!!), Evie Seo has graciously offered up a Studio Pouch with a design of choice to one lucky writer!!!!

Happy Holidays, Bookworms!

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Christmas In What You Always Wanted by Kristin Rae | Bonus Scene (+ Giveaway)

December 12, 2016 Giveaway, Guest Post 1

I am SOOOO excited to have Kristin Rae here on the blog today! Guys, I love Kristin. Her debut, Wish You Were Italian, is one of my favorite books ever and her sophomore novel, What You Always Wanted is super adorable too!

Today Kristin is presenting this exclusive Christmas bonus scene of What You Always Wanted, and it’s pretty perfect. It’s pretty much as perfect as the Wish You Were Italian bonus scene she wrote for my blog last year. Can you tell I can’t get enough of her novels? I always want more! Thank you so much, Kristin, for writing this sweet scene for my blog!


What You Always Wanted Bonus Scene
by Kristin Rae


“So … what first?” I ask, sinking into the couch with my legs folded under me.
After closing the last blackout curtain so there’s no glare on the screen from the setting sun, Jesse plops down next to me and takes my hand in his. “How about this?”

I rub the soft, squishy skin between his thumb and pointer finger, leaning toward him until our shoulders touch but stopping short of resting my head against him. Yeah, I know we danced most of the day at the playhouse—by “dancing,” I mean “kissing”—but being able to snuggle against him on a couch in the dark when I was only dreaming about the possibility twenty-four hours ago … it’s not totally computing.

“This is nice,” I say, and he makes a noise of agreement as he settles deeper into the back cushion. “But I guess I mostly meant which movie do you want to watch?” With one hand, I pull my bag from the floor and dump the movie selection across our laps.

“It’s a Wonderful Life? The Bishop’s Wife? Are these Christmas movies?” he asks with an implied groan, which I ignore.

“Yes! Just a few of my favorites.” I let go of his hand and sort the DVDs. “I was thinking we could start with White Christmas because there’s dancing, and one of the characters does this crazy thing where she taps her toe at light speed, and I want you to show me if that’s even physically possible, then we could balance out the dancing after that with The Shop Around the Corner—”

“Hold on.” He stops me with a finger to my lips, and a little chill travels down to my toes. “Why did you ask what I wanted to watch if you had everything planned out through—” He counts the movies. “—tomorrow morning?”

I laugh, tugging a throw blanket over my legs to warm my nerves. “Well, I wasn’t expecting to watch all of them in one go.”

“Maddie. Christmas is over. It’s New Year’s Day. Radio stations have stopped playing holiday music. We’ve all moved on.” He looks me in the eye with a straight face. “You can too.”

My mouth drops open in exaggerated surprise, but it turns into a smile when he laughs. “The season needs to last loooongerrrr,” I say. “It has the best movies, the best music, best weather. And besides, we didn’t really get to experience it, like … I mean …”

“Like boyfriend and girlfriend, you mean?” He’s not laughing anymore, but a corner of his mouth stays up in a sly-looking half-smile.

I mirror him. “Maybe.”

“Best weather?” he asks, like he just registered everything else I said. “How ya figure?”

“Cold, sometimes rainy or windy, chance of snow. It just feels … Christmassy, you know?”

“If by chance of snow, you mean point zero zero zero zero two percent chance, then I totally know what you’re talking about.” He pulls the blanket so it covers his legs too and acts like he’s nestling against me for warmth. “So Christmassy.”

I go ahead and lean my head on his as we continue to hold hands under the blanket. Because I can. I smile to myself and listen to us breathe, memorize the feel of his hand in mine.

“All I’m asking is for one more day, Jesse,” I plead as playfully as possible so it doesn’t sound like begging. “One day with you where it still feels like there’s some Christmas magic leftover.”

“Okay. As your boyfriend, I will do this for you. The holiday season has been extended one more day.”

I sit up to study his face. He just called himself my boyfriend. And it didn’t freak him out. And it didn’t freak me out.

“You sure? Because as your girlfriend, I don’t want you to be completely miserable with the first movie we watch together as an official couple.”

“I can’t promise I won’t fall asleep at some point, but I can promise I’ll be the opposite of miserable as long as I can do this.” He tightens his grip on our interlaced fingers, indicating he’s content just to be here with me, holding hands. “Hang on. I’ll be right back.”

He disappears into the hall, and I hear him clomp down the stairs, then back up a minute later. “Close your eyes,” he calls from outside the room. “Okay?”

“They’re closed.”

“Keep ‘em shut.” He makes some racket up near the TV, and for a second I think he might be switching movie choices on me. Like I’d let him get away with that.

It gets brighter on the other side of my eyelids, and I scrunch my eyebrows together. Not because it’s that bright, but because I’m so confused by what he could be doing.

“Okay. Open.”

He stands proudly in front of the TV, which he’s draped with a string of colored Christmas lights. They’re covering part of the screen, but I don’t care. He’s so adorably sweet, I almost can’t stand it.

I hop up off the couch, and before wrapping my arms around him, I lean in and give the tiny round scar on his cheek a quick kiss. Merry Christmas to me.

Have you read What You Always Wanted?
You really should because how cute are Maddie and Jesse?

What You Always Wanted by Kristin Rae
Series: If Only… #8
Published by Bloomsbury Children’s on March 29, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Add to Goodreads | Amazon

If only…he was the boy she’s been dreaming of.

Theatre girl Maddie Brooks has always had high standards for guys. But she has yet to find one who can live up to the classic Hollywood heartthrobs, especially the dreamy song-and-dance man Gene Kelly. When Maddie begins to carpool with Jesse Morales, her new neighbor and star pitcher of the baseball team, she’s struck by his wit, good looks, and love for his family—but a guy so into sports is definitely not her style. Then Maddie discovers that Jesse was raised as a dancer and still practices in the community theatre’s dance studio to keep in shape. Perhaps her perfect dream guy exists after all! But when it becomes clear that baseball—not dance—is Jesse’s passion, can Maddie find a way to let her dream guy go and appreciate the charms of the amazing guy in front of her?

This fun, high school theatre romance in the If Only line is for anyone who has ever wished for that impossibly perfect guy.


About Kristin Rae

Lover of books, music, chocolate, and crafty things. My young adult contemporary novels WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN, and WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED are out now, from Bloomsbury. Represented by Marietta Zacker of the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.

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