Monday, July 24, 2017

REVIEW: The Unforgettables / G.L. Tomas

TITLE: The Unforgettables
AUTHOR: G.L. Tomas
PUBLISHER: Rebellious Valkyrie Press

Young Adult - Contemporary

Sometimes, you find the book you didn't even know you were craving until you dive in and find yourself obsessed. That was THE UNFORGETTABLES for me. And I would have finished it a lot faster if life didn't have me running around in circles! I did most of my reading on the subway, and I didn't even mind when it was late... in fact, I nearly missed my stop more than once (the hazards of train reading!).

THE UNFORGETTABLES is a delightful contemporary YA story about two teens who embrace their inner geeks. Paul's the cool kid who recently moved into town from Chicago. Felicia's the smart kid who often finds herself isolated at school. They meet over the summer and become fast friends - drawn together by their mutual love of a comic book series. Soon, they're coming up with comic book codenames for themselves and the people in their lives as well, seeing their own lives through the lenses of superhero derring-dos. They seem destined to end up together... but, as it often does, life throws a wrench into their relationship. While this book has the set-up of a classic teen romance, it winds up veering off into unexpected directions... just like the world usually does.

I loved every moment of this book... like I said, I was obsessed. It was adorable, heartfelt, funny, meaningful... Paul and Felicia jump off the page with their quirks and flaws and their distinctive voices. Oh, did I mention that this is a multicultural story? Felicia's Haitian heritage and Paul's Japanese roots (he's biracial) are prominent parts of their personalities and their stories, seamlessly woven into the fabric of their realities. And yet, the book isn't just about their other-ness, and they're never exoticized. They just are, and that's what makes it perfect.

Though it's not a traditional romance, THE UNFORGETTABLES is still the story of Paul and Felicia's relationship - how it forms and transforms over the course of a tumultuous school year. Heavier issues are deftly handled while still portraying the all-too-real awkwardness and complexities of being a teen. I also loved how well-rounded the characters are. It's so tempting in high school-set books to simplify everyone into '80s-style cliche categories... the queen bee, the nerd, the jock, etc. That wasn't the case in this book. Paul's both a geek and the cool kid. Felicia's both the brain and the sporty girl. And both exhibit many, many personality traits outside even those. Just like the kids at my high school did back in the day, just like real teens - and real PEOPLE, in general - do.

All in all, this was a fantastic read, and I'll happily recommend it to anyone and everyone who enjoys contemporary YA.

G.L. Tomas is a twin writing duo and lover of all things blerdy, fearless and fun. When they're not spending their time crafting swoon-worthy heroes, they're battling alien forces in other worlds but occasionally take days off in search mom and pop spots that make amazing pasteles and tostones fried to perfection.

They host salsa lessons and book boyfriend auditions in their secret headquarters located in Connecticut.

Friday, July 21, 2017

BNG FRIDAY: The Last Android

Every Friday until its publication, I'm going to blog something about Brave New Girls: Stories of Girls Who Science and Scheme, a YA sci-fi anthology featuring tech-savvy heroines. The goal is to encourage more girls to explore Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math careers. Revenues from sales of the anthology will be donated to a scholarship fund through the Society of Women Engineers. 

Last but certainly not least, I'm spotlighting "The Last Android" by my co-editor, Paige Daniels! Set in a post-apocalyptic future where technology has virtually faded to myth, it's got that gritty, down-to-earth style that distinguishes Paige's work. Teen scavenger Imogen spends her days collecting scrap for the abusive old woman she lives with, but when she discovers a sentient android -- possibly the last working android in the world -- she fears what will happen to her new mechanical friend... she knows people will just want to take the android apart for parts. So she runs away and sets off in search of a rumored high-tech settlement, where she hopes she and the android will find a new home. Inspired by The Last Unicorn with a heroine that gives me Rey vibes (for those of you who are Star Wars fans, Imogen is kind of like a scrappier, more cynical version of Rey on Jakku), "The Last Android" somehow manages to be an epic journey within the bounds of a short story. It's a fantastic read, y'all, and I'm not just saying that because Paige is my co-editor ;-)

The Last Android 


Paige Daniels 


In a bleak future where technology is rare, a young scavenger finds what may be the last mechanical being in the world.


Paige Daniels is the pen name of Tina Closser. By day she works as an Electrical Engineer and Mom mushing her kids from gymnastics and violin practice. After the kids go to bed, she rocks out with her headphones turned to eleven and cranks out books. She is an uber science geek. If she wasn't married to the most terrific guy in the world, she would be a groupie for Adam Baldwin.


Twitter: @TClosser


The true key to innovation in our society is diversity without that you have the same ideas from the same people. We need new people in these STEM fields to spark innovation and creativity.




Wednesday, July 19, 2017

COVER REVEAL: Deception So Deadly / Clara Kensie

It's cover reveal day for Deception So Deadly by Clara Kensie! This super-romantic psychic thriller will be released on August 15th by Snowy Wings Publishing. The cover was designed by Key of Heart Designs.

Title: Deception So Deadly
Author: Clara Kensie
Release Date: August 15, 2017

Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

Book One in Clara Kensie's YA paranormal thriller Deception So series, Deception So Deadly was originally published as the Run to You serial parts 1 – 3, and is the winner of the prestigious RITA© Award for Best First Book.

RUN. It’s all sixteen-year-old Tessa Carson has ever known. Hunted by a telepathic killer, Tessa and her family have fled home after home, hiding behind aliases to survive. Her scars are more than just physical, and as the only one in her family without a psychic ability, she lives a life of secrets, lies, and fear.

After the Carsons flee to a new hideout and take on new identities yet again, Tessa meets confident, carefree Tristan Walker. Their attraction burns fierce, but she runs from him too, knowing their love can never be true when she can’t even tell him her real name.
But Tristan has secrets as well—secrets that will either save Tessa, or destroy her. The only way Tessa can save her family—and uncover the real reason they’ve been hunted all these years—is to forget everything she’s learned from a lifetime of running away, and run straight into danger head-on.

Danger. Deception. Betrayal. It must be first love.

"A dark, suspenseful, and romantic ride!" - USA Today
"The perfect blend of mystery, romance, paranormal thrills, and danger." - Mundie Moms
"A well-written YA paranormal read, with welcome dashes of thrills and plot twists, Kensie has written a gripping and engaging series that features great family dynamics and the enormity of first love." - RT Book Reviews
“A thrilling story, packed with twists, secrets, and swoon-worthy romance. I couldn’t read it fast enough!” ~Erica O’Rourke, author of the Torn trilogy (Kensington) and the Dissonance series (S&S BFYR)


**Special ebook pre-order price of only 99¢**
Pre-order Deception So Deadly now:
Amazon (Kindle)
Everywhere else*
(*new retailers added daily)
Add it on Goodreads
Paperbacks available for purchase on August 15th


Clara Kensie, author of dark fiction for young adults
…don’t forget to breathe…

Clara Kensie grew up near Chicago, reading every book she could find and using her diary to write stories about a girl with psychic powers who solved mysteries. She purposely did not hide her diary, hoping someone would read it and assume she was writing about herself. Since then, she’s swapped her diary for a computer and admits her characters are fictional, but otherwise she hasn’t changed one bit.

Today Clara is a RITA© Award-winning author of dark fiction for young adults. Her debut, the super-romantic psychic thriller Deception So series, was named an RT Book Review Editors Pick for Best Books of 2014, and Deception So Book One: Deception So Deadly, is the winner of the prestigious 2015 RITA© Award for Best First Book. The first two books in the series, originally released as the six-part Run to You digital serial in 2014, are being released in print with new Deception So titles and gorgeous new covers, starting with Deception So Deadly in August 2017 and Deception So Dark in February 2018. The series continues with Deception So Dangerous in August 2018.

Clara’s critically-acclaimed novel Aftermath (Simon and Schuster/Simon Pulse), a dark, ripped-from-the-headlines drama about hope, healing, and triumph over tragedy in the tradition of Room and The Lovely Bones, is on Goodreads’ list of Most Popular Books Published in November 2016, and Young Adult Books Central declared it a Top Ten Book of 2016.

Clara’s favorite foods are guacamole and cookie dough. But not together. That would be gross.

Find Clara online:
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Monday, July 17, 2017

If the Jane Colt trilogy were graphic novels...

Two years ago, I released the third and final installment of the Jane Colt trilogy into the world. In celebration of the series' completion (and just because I thought it'd be cool), I commissioned these illustrations... a glimpse at what the books might look like if they were graphic novels :-)

Friday, July 14, 2017

BNG FRIDAY: The Verne Shot

Every Friday until its publication, I'm going to blog something about Brave New Girls: Stories of Girls Who Science and Scheme, a YA sci-fi anthology featuring tech-savvy heroines. The goal is to encourage more girls to explore Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math careers. Revenues from sales of the anthology will be donated to a scholarship fund through the Society of Women Engineers. 

Today, I'm spotlighting Brandon Draga's "The Verne Shot," a steampunk adventure set in 19th century Canada. Sadie Ross, the daughter of a Mountie who lives out in the cold woods of Canada, loves tinkering and Jules Verne books. So of course, when her dad gives her a broken revolver, she fashions it into a laser gun. Only one problem: she can't figure out how to power it. I absolutely adore the old-timey setting of this story. Sadie's world really comes to life, and though the tech is steampunk, it feels like historical fiction. When Sadie's dad goes after a dangerous criminal, Sadie fears the worst and goes out after him, hoping to help. Of course, adventure and mayhem ensue. Though Sadie's a quiet bookworm, she's bold when it matters, and I can't wait for y'all to meet her!


The Verne Shot 


Brandon Draga


​Sadie Ross, an inquisitive girl living in late 19th Century British Columbia, is a spirited inventor who is one breakthrough short of her greatest creation yet. When her father, a sergeant in the Northwest Mounted Police, vanishes on a mysterious manhunt, Sadie and her invention may be the only hope of seeing him home safe.


Brandon Draga was born and still lives just outside Toronto, Canada. Drawn to fantasy and world mythology at a young age, his interests segued into his pursuing a Bachelors Degree in History, only realizing years after the fact that he spent more time writing his own personal work than he did some of his papers. In 2014 Brandon released his first novel, The Summerlark Elf, as well as the fantasy children's book Dragon in the Doghouse (with illustrator Deanna Laver). When he isn't writing, Brandon enjoys skateboarding, tabletop games, and playing old punk songs poorly on guitar.


Twitter: @brandondraga
Instagram: @brandondraga


I want to work toward a world where the "smart girl" is no longer a token trope, and where young women don't have to be reminded that they can be whatever they want when they grow up, because it is simply a fact.




Thursday, July 13, 2017

Behind the STARSWEPT book trailer

Whether book trailers do any good with regard to sales and marketing is perpetually up for debate. A few things are known for certain though: 1) They can't hurt 2) They're hella fun.

Big publishers sometimes produce life-action, cinematic trailers for their marquis titles. Those of us who don't have such resources and whose budget is determined not by a million-dollar marketing team, but by one's savings account and willingness to subsist on ramen, must find other solutions.

In my case, I decided to go abstract for the STARSWEPT book trailer. I didn't have the means to stage elaborate reenactments of the book's scenes... especially since it's space-age sci-fi. Besides, this ain't a movie. Showing things literally wouldn't do any good... it'd be a trailer for a film that would never be released. And it would limit readers' imaginations, since they'd be forced to picture the trailer's depiction of scenes instead of imagining them.

I wasn't aiming to illustrate scenes, but rather to capture the tone of the book... a mix of galaxy-spanning sci-fi, classical arts, and fairytale romance. Since the story takes place at a futuristic performing arts school, where students compete to gain alien patrons who sponsor their careers on a utopian planet, I knew from the get-go that my trailer would feature a combination of performing arts and space images. And while combing my book for ideas, I came across this bit:

It was then that I realized that I accidentally (I mean, intentionally after much pondering and a visitation from my muse :-P) illustrated this very concept with my book cover. On it, Iris is literally floating in a nebula... a star being created from colorful dust.

Symbolism completely on purpose. Not at all because I just thought it was pretty. I am an ARTISTE ;-)

As long as I had this concept going for me, I decided to expand upon it for the book trailer. I combed stock footage websites for videos that captured the tone I was going for... the grace and romance of performing arts and the beauty and futurism of nebulas. Then I faded the footage into each other to create the feel of performing artists appearing out of clouds of stardust. In addition, I tried to find footage depicting stage lights and bright stars, so I could blend them and have stage lights turn into stars... and fledgling suns turn into spotlights. After all, a big solo is a day in the sun.

The hardest part was finding the right soundtrack. I tinkered with the idea of composing something myself, but concluded that I just didn't have the right resources (my small collection of instruments and synths has served me well, but sadly, I can't turn myself into a full classical orchestra). So it was back to the stock libraries I went.

I knew right away that I wanted something orchestral, something classical-sounding without being actual classical music (though I did briefly consider using Mozart... problem was, it made the trailer seem like it was for a historical drama or that it was being played ironically). A lot of the stock music I found was epic, pounding trailer music, which was awesome, but totally wrong for my dreamy sci-fi romance... my fairytale in space. I filtered the results for slower pieces... I wanted something graceful and haunting.

Then, I found a choral and orchestral piece that gave me chills when I listened to it. Bingo: I had my song. As a bonus, the words the choir was singing (though hard to make out if you're not listening for them) matched perfectly; they sing "Come back to me" over and over, which is a common thought for my star-crossed lovers (who are separated by actual stars). 

After I had my pieces, it was time to put it all together. I opened with a shot of the camera approaching Earth... something that illustrates the arrival of the telepathic aliens that kick off the premise. Then, I added my performing arts school/nebula... performers appearing from stardust and stars turning to stage lights. I ended with a shot of a spaceship flying into the distance to illustrate the aliens taking the artists away... and Iris's eventual journey across the universe. Below is the final result, and I must say, I'm proud of it!