Waiting On Wednesday #1

31 October 2012

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking The Spine to share each week which upcoming release we are highly anticipating. 
This week I am waiting on...

Smuggler's Kiss by Marie Louise Jensen.

It's not a crime to steal a heart
Smugglers are cut-throat rascals. At least that's what Isabelle's always been told. But when she's rescued from drowning at sea by the crew of a notorious smuggling ship, her principles are thrown into confusion. Outwitting the king's men fills her with excitement, especially when she's with one mysterious smuggler in particular . . .

I have loved all of Marie Louise Jensen's books so far so I am absolutely thrilled to hear that she has written another book...
Although I'm not so thrilled to hear that it is out in March 2013. *sighs and settles down to wait with a good book.*

What are you waiting on this week?

Don't forget to link me up and I'll come and visit you!

Interview with Emily from Emily's Chronicles!

28 October 2012

Today I have the lovely Emily, from Emily's Chronicles here to answer some questions. I hope you enjoy reading them! :)

How did you discover book blogging?
Well...I'm not technically a book blogger, as I blog about many things other than reviews, but the way I discovered blogging in general was through my good friend Rose. Check out her blog, Mad Roses And Oopsy Daises!

Rachel Harris - Guest Post + Giveaway (INT'L)

24 October 2012

 Rachel Harris, the author of the newly published My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century  an amazing book all about time travel and the sixteenth century has written a fantastic post all about the process of writing her debut novel, and has even kindly offered to let me host a giveaway so one of you lucky readers can win some...actually...read this post and then you can find out what you can win! ;)

 First off, I want to thank Hawwa for hosting me today, and generally being an all-around rock star. She’s one of my Flirt Squad girls, and we've shared many humorous emails back and forth over the past few months. She’s my girl =D (awwh thank you!)
Today, I’m here to talk about that mysterious, confusing, fun journey of writing your first book. The nuts and bolts of this magical undertaking—How I did it (although you should know going in that there are as MANY ways of doing this as there are authors), what I found to be the easiest and hardest parts of the whole crazy process, where I write, and what my daily/weekly word count goals are.
Sound fun? Well it certainly isn't boring!
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century wasn't actually my first book. My first book was a YA Contemporary Romance that I hope to be telling you all about soon, so my ‘debut’ novel is actually my second attempt, but really, my process has always been the same. And with each manuscript I write, I learn that it gets a little easier and my writing gets a little better. My first book took me just over three months to draft and edit, and My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century took me just over two months.
The reason I’m able to draft and revise so quickly is that I always take a month prior to writing to plan everything out. Y’all, I’m a total obsessive plotter girl. I interview my characters, find inspiration pictures, make story soundtracks, create posters, plot out every moment and character arc, and conduct tons of research. I create a huge story bible with all this info, and it is always with me. Always. I do all this in a month because, as I said, I’m kind of/okay, a ton obsessive. This is the fun part for me, the intensely creative, researching, learning phase, and I can’t start writing until I feel like I know exactly where this novel is going to go. Once I do, I type “Chapter One.”
And I can revise so quickly because I surround myself with authors who are made of awesome. All of us write as much as we can during the day, striving for a chapter or anywhere from 1,000-2,000 words, and then we send our latest pages to each other. We mark them up, making suggestions and laughing and swooning right there on the page, and then send them back. I rarely move onto my next chapter without having the previous ones ready to go, thanks to their amazing notes. When I type “The End,” it normally means I have one final read through to make sure it all works with my overall plot and nothing is missing, and then it is off to my agent and editor.
So, for me, I’d say the easiest part of writing is revising. I already have a road map for where I want to go, and with the insight my critique partners (and later agent and editor) give me, I knock these out really fast. The hardest for me would probably be time management. I was tempted to say plotting, because that is so involved, but honestly, it is the part I love the most. But what I suck at is balancing my day job of being a home-school mom, cleaning the house, being a good critique partner myself, and finding time to write. That’s why I strive for more of a weekly word count goal than a daily one.
Right now, I’m working on my YA Contemporary Thriller, Rearview Mirror, which is due to my editor at the end of December. I have an Excel spreadsheet that tracks the date, my new daily total, my daily word count, and where I should be to be on track for my goal. I mainly write Monday through Friday, with the occasional weekend in a hotel thanks to my fabulous husband, so my goal is roughly 900 words a day, or 4500 words a week. Considering that I edit as I write, that is a doable goal for me, and some days I’m able to write way over that day’s target.
As for where I write? Anywhere I can! I usually haunt my desk, outfitted with two monitors and a ton of reference material at my fingertips, but I’ve been known to write at Panera Bread, libraries, hotels, and McDonald’s play lands. I’m not a snob or particularly picky when it comes to where…just that it happens. =D
So that’s how I roll. Probably way more information than you ever could’ve wanted, but I always find it interesting to discover how different authors bring their books to life. And speaking of that, I’d LOVE to hear yours! Aspiring authors, bloggers, published authors, journal-writing aficionados, tell me YOUR writing tricks and secrets, and don't forget to enter to win a Super Sweet Swag Pack (yes, this is open internationally!)

Isn't she super cool!?!
What did you think of her book? Do you think it was worth all the hard work she put into it?...
Now onto the good stuff - although I'm not trying to say that her guest post wasn't..it was amazing..but..yeah..I've just dug myself a great big deep hole..I'm going to stop now but first..

Here's the rafflecopter widget!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

REVIEW: The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable

20 October 2012

Published: October 4th 2012
Publisher: Chicken House Publishing
Number Of Pages: 288
Book: For Review*
Format: Finished Copy
Genre:  Children's Books, Fantasy, Adventure, Mystery
Alone in the world, Sophie dreams of being someone special, but she could never have imagined this.
On a school trip to Russia, Sophie and her two friends find themselves on the wrong train. They are rescued by the beautiful Princess Anna Volkonskaya, who takes them to her winter palace and mesmerises them with stories of lost diamonds and a tragic past. But as night falls and wolves prowl, Sophie discovers more than dreams in the crumbling palace of secrets.
-from goodreads      
 "Why did real life have to be so dull? Why did boarding school seem so...beige?"
Sophie is an orphan.
Both her parents are dead and her guardian doesn't seem to really care about her.
She is almost invisible to everyone else in her poor, threadbare clothes and hardly ever stands out, unless it is for the wrong reasons. Her dream is to go to Russia; a dream which her two friends don't seem to understand. Why would she want to go to Russia?
What they don't know is that nearly every night Sophie has a dream. A dream where her father is alive, with her, and they are both in the icing covered, magical land where crystal snowflakes fill the air. Russia.
When a strange woman comes to the school, and picks her, selects her amongst all the other more sophisticated, rich girls, to go to St Petersburg to visit, Sophie is delighted. She feels wanted, and a spark of excitement zips round her body as she finally sees her dream coming alive...
"She knew where they were going. Always the same place - a place conjured from his stories, dreams and memories."
When the trip to Russia doesn't go to plan and Sophie and her two friends find themselves abandoned in the freezing snow on a deserted platform, the girls really don't know what to expect. What they get is Princess Anna Volkonskaya, a desperate women intent on only one thing - finding her family's long lost treasure - a rope of magnificent diamonds. A woman who believes Sophie might hold the key to its whereabouts...
I absolutely loved Sophie's character. She was quite, dreamy and forgetful and totally realistic and relatable. Even though she seemed so utterly normal and shy I didn't really doubt that she had such courage and bravery in the face of danger, even death. I know if I had been in her position I would probably have resigned myself to the fact that I was going to die young and burst out crying or something but Sophie is special. In a way that she doesn't realize, and throughout the book Sophie battles with princesses, befriends white wolves and finds herself; as a daughter, friend, and something really special...
The Wolf Princess was packed full of adventure, mystery and excitement. With old, crumbling castles, a mysterious, glamorous and secretive Princess, sleigh rides in the snow through magnificent forests, unexpected friends, and lies and secrets filling the decaying castle; this book will not disappoint. With a fairytale-esque feel to it all you need is to curl up on a sofa with a warm drink and you will be captivated. Jump on that train and steam through silent, snowy forests to this winter wonderland.
*Thank you to Chicken House Publishing for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Breathe Blog Tour Extract + Giveaway

17 October 2012

  Today I have the uber cool Breathe Blog Tour stopping over at Ebony Black Lines so I hope you enjoy reading all about it!

Breathe by Sarah Crossan
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release date: October 11th 2012
Ages: 14+

When oxygen levels plunge in a treeless world, a state lottery decides which lucky few will live inside the Pod. Everyone else will slowly suffocate. Years after the Switch, life inside the Pod has moved on. A poor Auxiliary class cannot afford the oxygen tax which supplies extra air for running, dancing and sports. The rich Premiums, by contrast, are healthy and strong. Anyone who opposes the regime is labelled a terrorist and ejected from the Pod to die.
Sixteen-year-old Alina is part of the secret resistance, but when a mission goes wrong she is forced to escape from the Pod. With only two days of oxygen in her tank, she too faces the terrifying prospect of death by suffocation. Her only hope is to find the mythical Grove, a small enclave of trees protected by a hardcore band of rebels. Does it even exist, and if so, what or who are they protecting the trees from? A dystopian thriller about courage and freedom, with a love story at its heart.
~Blurb from Goodreads.

Interview With Author Marie Louise Jensen.

14 October 2012

Today I am pleases to welcome the lovely Marie Louise Jensen author of, among others, The Lady In The Tower and The Girl In The Mask.

Hi! Welcome to Ebony Black Lines. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your books?

Hello and thank you for the invitation.
I’m a life-long reader, writer and book lover and I write historical adventures with romance. I’ve been writing for publication since 2005 and Oxford University Press are the lovely people who publish my books.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was very young. It took me a long time to get around to it! I’ve done lots of other interesting things along the way though, such as learning a number of languages, teaching and living and working in different countries.

Was your journey to becoming a published author a long and/or hard one? How did it come about?

I was incredibly lucky. I wrote my first book in nine very concentrated, dedicated months and finding an agent and a publisher took only around five months. But there was then a two-year wait for publication. I used it to write lots.

How long does it take you to write a book and what do you have to do to finish it? (choosing a cover, editing etc.) 

I do plan. Not every detail, but I like to know where I’m going and a few of the points along the way. A lot of the planning is done through the months I spend researching. You certainly waste less time that way. My imagination fills in the rest as I go along. 
Writing the first draft is a huge task, but there is plenty more to do afterwards. I usually rewrite at least once before the book goes into my editor and once after. Plus I do endless reading through and adjustments. The copy-editing process can also involve rewriting sections and checking research. And then the proof pages need careful checking too. It’s a long-painstaking process. The publisher does the cover design.

What is your daily routine for writing?

I don’t have any kind of routine. I’m a single mum and very busy. I write whenever and wherever I get the chance. At my desk, in my bed, in libraries, in cafes, in the car even.

Top five tips for budding writers?

1) READ!
2) Practice writing very regularly – poems, scenes, short stories, diaries etc.
3) Read some more. Try new genres, authors you don’t know: challenge yourself.
4) Look at the books you enjoy and think about how the writer has constructed the scenes you loved and think about how you might apply that to your own writing. Think about what elements make you like the story.
5) Read lots more and keep reading. Reading widely and regularly is key.

Your books are all historical. How do you find it when you start a book and you have to do lots of research? How do you do the research?

Beginning a new book in a new era is always daunting and exciting in equal measure. It is so much work! I research for at least two months before I begin writing. How I research varies. With Between Two Seas and my Viking books, I did a lot of visiting locations and museums as well as reading. For The Lady in the Tower and The Girl in the Mask, I spend hundreds of hours reading, often in the library. You can’t set a book convincingly in a time-period without knowing an awful lot about it. 

What do you think of the phrase, "always write what you know"?  

For me personally, it helps to have a certain knowledge base as a starting point. I knew the scenery and the history I used in Between Two Seas rather well before I began, and my research built on that. Having studied the Icelandic Sagas at university gave me a starting point (as well as the idea) for the Viking books. I still needed to spend many weeks in Iceland before I felt confident about writing them though. 
I knew very little about the Tudor era before I started work on The Lady in the Tower (although I used a local story and location) so that was a huge amount of work.
For my next book Smuggler’s Kiss (publishing March 2013) I walked a large section of the Purbeck coast in Dorset last January. A wonderful way to research!

Do you think it's important for young people to start writing early?

I don’t know. I imagine it depends on the person. I’ve certainly written from a very young age.

When you look back on your novels, do you come across things you'd want to rewrite?  

Oh yes! You find little errors of research, clichés or clumsy sentences. Rereading your own work is a painful thing to do.

Which of your characters do you think is most like you?

All my characters are much braver than me. Marianne (Between Two Seas) and Sigrun (Sigrun’s Secret) have the most of me in them.

Could you give us a first line or title that we could turn into a story?

Here is the first sentence of the book I’m working on at the moment (due for publication 2014).  It doesn’t have a title yet, and I’ve only written nine chapters:

"I knew there was something wrong as soon as I saw the door was ajar. "

What are the best and worst things about writing?

The best thing is the sheer pleasure it gives me to create and work on stories. I love every stage of the process. And it gives me the freedom I need to work around my children. The worst thing is probably the lack of financial security.

Quick fire questions:
Cheese or chocolate?  Chocolate! Especially when working.Laptop or desktop? I’m a laptop girl – need my work to be portable.Kid or adult? Kids every time. Reading or Writing? BOTH!Quiet or loud? Quiet. Although I can work anywhere.

Sorry about the amount of questions i got a bit too excited! ;-)

Absolutely no problem! 

Hope you enjoyed reading!
Don't Forget To Smile!! :D

What's Left Of Me GIVEAWAY

08 October 2012

Yes, you heard right.
I am doing a giveaway for the book I have been swooning over with Zoe ever since we first heard about it! Drooling and screaming and generally just going mad over it, this book is already legendary in our eyes!
Thanks to the lovely lovely lovely lovely lovely lovely  LOVELY people over at Harper Collins, you amazing followers have a chance to win a copy of What's Left Of Me by Kat Zhang!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am terribly sorry but this is for UK people only, publishers orders! If I could, I would make it an International giveaway, but I am not the one in charge so I am very very sorry...Never fear though...I have two other awesome giveaways going on at the moment, both of them International and another International one scheduled so I haven't completely forgotten about you! Look underneath my header for the links or just go to my giveaway page...I may have updated it I can't remember..lol....

REVIEW: The Weight Of Water by Sarah Crossan

04 October 2012

Published: January 5th 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Number Of Pages: 228
Book: For Review*
Format: Finished Copy
Genre: Young Adult (YA), Poetry, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction.
Armed with a suitcase and an old laundry bad filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother leave Poland and head for the UK to find her father. Life is lonely for Kasienka. At home her mother's heart is breaking and at school Kasienka finds it impossible to make new friends. While the search continues, Kasienka is kept afloat by William, a boy she meets at the local pool who understands what it means to lose someone and who swims with Kasienka towards her new life.
“When I am in the water
My body moves like a wave: There is a violence to it; And a beauty.”
Kasienka is moving.
Her father has disappeared and her mother is anxious to find him. Not caring that she has no idea where in England he lives, they come to the UK, but Kasienka's mother is unhappy and her desperation to find her husband increases with every passing day; and Kasienka is finding it none the easier either as school is tough and making friends is harder than she imagined....
When I heard this was written in verse I was immediately excited to see what it would be like having not read anything like it before and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. 
The main character, Kasienka, was so adorable and sweet and strong. She was unhappy and lonely and insecure but she was strong within herself when she needed to be. She was a heroine. Tirelessly trying to help her mother fit her life back together piece by piece, keeping true to herself and trying not to be overwhelmed by her school bullies. Kasienka was unique in her own special way but the school bully, Claire, didn't see it that way and teased and tormented her for being too white, having too short hair, for having the wrong kind of bag, but essentially for being different. But through this she learnt to be happy with who she was and realised that no matter how hard you try, someone will always find fault with you, you just have to know what's best for you and stick with it, and nearly always, you'll find someone just like you, who may not be perfect, but will treat you just the way you want to be treated and will make you feel happy inside, like liquid gold.
I loved William too. He made Kasienka feel brave and wanted. At home her mother was too distracted to realise the problems she was going through and had no idea how to help her either, but William? He was popular and kind with it. He wasn't arrogant and cocky lie you think most popular people would be. He helped Kasienka forget about all her troubles and shared his with her too, which is the best way to get someone to feel closer to you. I only had one tiny problem with him. He smoked. But then like I said, not everyone is perfect! And I was so so proud of Kasienka when he offered her one and she refused. She could have just taken it to make out that she was ''cool'' but she didn't, and she influenced Will by doing that too, he put the cigarettes away and they played on the swings instead...
My favourite character other than Kasienka was Kanoro, the resident next door to them. 

"Kanoro lives in our building,
In the next room.
He shares a bathroom with mama and me,
But he is not a nasty person:
            He is beautiful
He is blacker than anyone I have ever met,
                                         Skin like
                                         Wet ink
And he scares me,
Until he smiles:
             All gums
A smile that makes his eyes twinkle."

He helps them in the best way possible, by making them laugh and smile, and helping them to remember to be happy, and never give up. He is always there for Kasienka, and she pours her heart out to him when she feels she cannot speak to her mother. She plays chess with him and watches television and plays with him outside in winter; their first experience of 'English' snow.
Outside of home and school, swimming is Kasienka's solace and it's when she's in the water that she feels powerful, sleek and self-assured and she can momentarily forget all the troubles that have been weighing her down every day. 

"Mrs Warren asks, "Do you speak English dear?"
Crouching down,
                         Resting her hands on her knees,
As though summoning a spaniel."

"In lessons I have to
Hide my face
With a book
So teachers
Don't see my tonsils,
when I yawn

I don't read well
In English
That is all I can't do

So they put me in with eleven-year-olds."

The Weight Of Water teaches us to be accepting of people from different cultures and to not make snap judgments about others. It is about immigration and alienation and trying to fit in with people who judge you on appearance without getting to know the real you and the person inside. Kasienka has to deal with peoples' prejudices, even those of the adults around her. Her teacher automatically assumes she is dumb and incapable of outing her in the same year as people her age and immediately thinks she needs educational help just because she is from abroad so puts her with eleven-year-old. Her class mates do the same, they talk to her as if she has mental difficulties and label her the immature polish girl, the one who doesn't know how to dress or speak or act or even have friends. As Cathy Cassidy says, it was "Poignant, powerful, just perfect." A stunning début novel.
*This book was provided by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.