I blame Stephanie Pellegrin.

She just had to to tweet pics of her Coca-Cola cake. The cake looked so gooey and delish, it got P.J. Hoover and I talking about cake-offs, which led to tweets about blog recipes, which led to tweets about books and recipes which led to THIS:

#DESSERTEDREADS = Cake Recipe + Book Review +

Friday June 22 = EPIC BLOGNESS

Who’s in? Who’s up for a whole day dedication to decadent reads paired with sugary, iced perfection? If you are, join us by blogging a fave cake recipe with a fave book review. Bonus street cred for blogging about a stellar ‘deserted/desserted’ book that’s been out for awhile, but hasn’t quite gotten the love and attention it deserves. Any cake. Any book. Tweet it up at #DESSERTEDREADS before and all day Friday, June 22. Steph, P.J., and I would love to post a link to your luscious post, so keep those tweets and linked comments going.

Help us make this celebration ridiculous fun and SUPER SWEET!

Sometimes, I love a book so much I have to shout it from the rooftops. Leigh Bardugo’s debut, Shadow and Bone, is that kind of read–seriously one of my absolute top picks for 2012! Of course I had to beg Leigh for an interview and put together the ultimate Ravka themed prize-pack. I couldn’t help myself, guys!

Shadow and Bone ARC, Handmade Russian Winter soap from Mountain Girl Soap http://www.mountaingirlsoap.com/, and a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card!

Suzi Says Da, Kreme de la Kremlin, St. Petersburgundy, and RapiDry Top Coat

So..if you want to win an ARC of Shadow and Bone along with a mailbox full of indulgent goodies, keep reading.

Book Description:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

Interview:

1. Leigh, can you tell us about that moment when things clicked, when the fragments of SHADOW AND BONE became the story you wanted to tell?

Honestly, it came pretty late in the process. People may be surprised to learn that in the first draft, Alina and Mal had parents. (I wanted to dodge the high fantasy cliche of the orphan.) But as I got into my research, I learned about some of the Russian noblemen who came back from the Napoleonic Wars with a much changed view of the serfs that had fought beside them. Their stories became the inspiration for Keramzin, a country estate converted into an orphanage and home for war widows by a Duke returning from military service. Once I understood where Mal and Alina came from, I understood the bond between them so much better, and that really became the heart of the story.
 
2. Ravka, Ravka, Ravka…You built such an amazing place, setting each scene so well! (Exhibit A: Page 40–‘The Duke’s estate had been beautiful, but it was a melancholy beauty of dusty rooms and peeling paint, the echo of something that had once been grand.’ WORD SWOON.) What’s your favorite detail or element of Alina’s world?

I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I have to admit, I really liked writing about the food– sweet pea porridge, roasted lynx, burnt swan with saffron, the list goes on. I went even crazier with it in Book 2, and food and sweets are a big part of the narrative in my short story “The Witch of Duva.” I also had a lot of fun describing the winter fete. I love to plan parties for my friends and I basically got to throw the most over-the-top, disgustingly decadent shindig ever at the Grand Palace.

3. Alina is a wonderfully believable heroine. She’s tough and vulnerable, all at once, and her experiences are downright thrilling. What drives her? In her heart of hearts, what does Alina yearn for, more than anything? 

At the beginning of the story, Alina is desperate to belong to someone or something. She isn’t just an orphan, but also a refugee and she has no real place in the world. She’s not quite a peasant, but she certainly isn’t aristocracy. She’s supposed to be a mapmaker, but she isn’t a very good one. Her hunger to find a home, to feel valued is a powerful thing and it leads her to make some questionable decisions. By story’s end, she has a much clearer sense of herself, but what she wants has gotten far more complicated.
4. It would be criminal not to mention my stalker-like crush on the Darkling. Are you surprised to hear that so many readers connect with him as a character? What was the key to writing this enigmatic charmer?
I would not recommend stalking the Darkling. I suspect it would end… badly. That said, it’s been interesting to see the positive and negative reactions to him. In a way, I think they mirror Ravka’s ambivalence toward the Darkling. His charm and his beauty don’t change the fact that he’s a very dangerous sort. Power seduces and it isolates. I think that dichotomy is the key to his character.



5. Every author has a unique journey. So far, what has surprised you the most about the road to publication?
Well, I’m going to be honest here. The biggest surprise has been learning just how thin my skin is. I like to think of myself as fairly ferocious, but I like being liked. Sometimes it’s hard for me not to take things personally. I assume I’ll get better at this. Or I’ll go live in a cave without wifi.

6. What, if anything, can you tell us about your next book?
I’m so eager to talk about Book 2 of the Grisha Trilogy. So many things change and no one comes through the story the same way he or she started. We’ll be traveling a bit more beyond Ravka’s borders and I’m introducing some new characters– one of whom is easily my favorite of the whole series. That’s about as specific as I can get.  
7. If you could go back and give your pre-debut writer self some advice, what would it be?
I’d like to give her the confidence of knowing that she does finish the book, that she has it in her. So often, this ugly voice would crop up in my head, “Who do you think you’re kidding? You don’t know how to do this!” It would be nice to give myself a little more ammunition to shut that voice up.

A big thanks to Leigh for doing this interview. And a big thanks to YOU for reading! Again, do you wanna win this:

Shadow and Bone ARC, Handmade Russian Winter soap from Mountain Girl Soap http://www.mountaingirlsoap.com/, and a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card!

AND THIS?

Suzi Says Da, Kreme de la Kremlin, St. Petersburgundy, and RapiDry Top Coat

To win, all you have to do is leave a comment below. BUT…if you ALSO tweet this blog post link with the hashtag #SHADOWANDBONE, I’ll put FIVE EXTRA ENTRIES into the drawing for you! And if you sign up as a blog follower, I’ll put in FIVE MORE!

Contest ends in one week, guys, at Midnight on June 4th. Sorry, no international entries–US only. Happy Memorial Day and good luck! 🙂

I belong to a great writers’ workshop, and we put on a writers’ conference every year. And this year, DFWcon melted my face off like Dave Grohl rocking during a Foo Fighters’ encore set.

Lemme give you 10 reasons why:

1. I met my agent, Sara Crowe, in person, for the first time ever!!! She’s so phenomenal in eleventy-billion ways, and hanging out with her all weekend just confirmed them all. I had so much fun gabbing and getting into shenanigans. (In-N-Out Burgers! Panel Discussions! Bull-Riding at Billy Bob’s!)

2. I met many other publishing professionals, and it turns out that PR genius Mer Barnes, and super agents Sarah LaPolla and Jennie Goloboy are just as crazy cool as you’d expect. (Psst…they aren’t bad at Texas two-stepping either.) And editor Stacey Barney? When she talks about YA, drop your fork and take notes. Her taste in good books (and dessert) is impeccable.

3. Alec Shane is at Writers’ House. He’s also a former Hollywood STUNTMAN. Dude. Fo Realz. He might not have an official action figure, but hey, google his IMDB page. Then award 1,000,001 street cred points for appearing in a flick called MAXIMUM CAGE FIGHTER. And award another 1,000,001 points for championing boy YA books. (Note to self: Write heartbreaking, edgy YA about a seventeen-year-old mixed martial arts master. Who cage fights. In Post-Apocalyptic Detroit.)

4. There’s a coffee shop in Hurst called ROOTS. They make blackberry green tea Chai lattes. That taste like warm blackberry cobbler. Don’t tell me how many calories are in a Venti. I don’t want to know.

5. Author Rosemary Clement-Moore is a perfect hotel roommate. She doesn’t snore, she doesn’t hog all the hot water, and you can totally pick her brain at 1:00 a.m.

6. Kate Cornell is the world’s best agent wrangler. She gets your agent coffee, packs a mean conference survival kit, tells perfect anecdotes, and absolutely, positively doesn’t hold it against you when you have to drive back to Abuelo’s and kidnap her because you couldn’t figure out the right exit to get to the airport.

7. DFWcon attendees are charming and sweet and 100% inspiring. When you teach a session, they don’t heckle you and they ask great questions. When they practice pitch you, they blow you away with high concept premises (Hey, Sally Hamiltinez!) and well-developed ideas. (Hello, MR. SECULAR APOCALYPSE, I’m talking to YOU.)

You can e-mail Jason at purplebondagelolcats@gmail.com

8. This year’s GONG SHOW–I can’t even, guys. What happens when you listen to agents gong and crit queries/first pages? A scorched earth, DEFCON LEVEL I nuclear blast zone of shock and awe-some. Mildly painful. Seriously instructive.

9. Rosemary, A. Lee Martinez and I taught a ‘Perfect Your Pitch’ class. And Candy Havens critiqued reads with us, too! Our best advice? When querying, your e-mail shouldn’t be purplebondagelolcats@gmail.com. Also, never google ‘purple bondage lolcats.’ EVER.

10. Author Roni Loren knows how to write a scorching hot love scene. She also knows how to teach you how to write a scorching hot love scene. She also, also knows the words one must never use in a love scene. No LOVE SWORDS or SECRET GARDENS, apparently. Can’t imagine why.

So…how was your conference weekend? If you were at DFWcon, I’d love to hear about your experience!

I just finished reading four books, back to back, and each one was STELLAR. That never happens, so you better believe I’m excited to praise these reads, all of which have a common thread–each features a flawed, unconventional protagonist.

I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER by Dan Wells.

Six Second Summary: (From flap) John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it. To keep his obsession with serial killer under wraps and under control, he lives by rigid rules he’s written for himself, practicing normal high school life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation. After a string of brutal murders terrorizes his town, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.

I loved it because: Wells’ voice is electric–he keeps the action moving at a fast clip, but all the while, we feel the misunderstood, melancholy wounds that John Wayne Cleaver tries to conceal. There are twists and unexpected turns of fate that make I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER nothing less than stone cold amazing–don’t miss it.

Shelve it between: DARKLY DREAMING DEXTER by Jeff Lindsay and your copy of SUPERNATURAL: Season One, two other chilling, thrilling diversions.

BLACK HEART by Holly Black

Six Second Summary: (Adapted from flap) Cassel Sharpe comes from a long line of con artists and curse workers. Everyone wants him–the crime families and feds, but he’s just trying to stay out of trouble and protect the headstrong girl who’s always held his heart. Cassel will need every ounce of wit and will to make one last score, a final play to win his freedom once and for all.

I loved it because: It’s no secret I adored WHITE CAT and RED GLOVE, but Holly Black outdid herself this time–BLACK HEART is a David Mamet meets Mario Puzo masterpiece, one of the very best trilogy conclusions I’ve ever finished. Get thee to a bookstore right now and pick it up.

Shelve it between: David Mamet’s sleeper con-artist flick, THE SPANISH PRISONER and Mario Puzo’s THE GODFATHER. Yeah, it’s that good. A top shelf trilogy.

DROWNING INSTINCT by Ilsa J. Bick

Six Second Summary: Jenna Lord hides a lot of scars–her psycho dad and drunk mother haven’t protected her in life, and when Jenna meets Mitch Anderson, her chemistry teacher and coach, she’s drawn to him. He’s the one person she can trust, the one honest adult who makes her feel safe. In Drowning Instinct, lines are crossed and we’re left to wonder: Who’s the monster, who’s the victim, and who should live happily ever after?

I loved it because: I can’t resist stalker-ific stories or tales of obsessive love. DROWNING INSTINCT is both, and it’s just the right kind of unsettling story. One that’s filled with desperation and doomed affection–the kind that makes you weep and that won’t let you look away.

Shelve it between: Emily Bronte’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS and TEACH ME by R.A. Nelson, two more breathtaking, catastrophically heartbreaking tales.

 

 

CAN I SEE YOUR ID? by Chris Barton

Six Second Summary: (From flap) True crime, desperation, fraud, and adventure: From the impoverished young woman who enchanted nineteenth-century British society as a faux Asian princess, to the lonely but clever Frank Abagnale of Catch Me if You Can fame, Barton’s ten vignettes offer riveting insight into mind-blowing masquerades. Each scene is presented in the second person, a unique point of view that literally places you inside the faker’s mind. The psychology of deception has never been so fascinating or so close at hand.

I loved it because: Who can say no to the ultimate choose-your-own adventure experience? I loved slipping into the minds of these sometime ne’er-do-wells, people who pulled off the ultimate deceptions. Second person POV is risky, but Barton pulls off a gutsy move to great success. CAN I SEE YOUR ID? is a rare non-fiction treat, a book that unspools like a series of suspenseful capers.

Shelve it between: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN by Frank W. Abagnale and FLAWLESS: INSIDE THE LARGEST DIAMOND HEIST IN HISTORY by Scott Andrew Selby, two more ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ thrillers.

 

Hungry for more? Try this recipe for ultra-dark, super sinful BLACK MAGIC CAKE.

Binge!

I have news! The University of Texas at Arlington contacted me about developing/teaching a few courses for writers. This spring, I’m teaching Writing Young Adult Books. You do NOT have to be a UTA student. Anyone can enroll.

The class will run for five sessions, Monday Evenings from 7-9 p.m. CST.

Session one: April 30th
Session two: May 7th
Session three: May 14th
Session four: May 21st
Session five: June 4th (No class on May 28th for Memorial Day).

Basically, during the class, I’m sharing every secret I’ve ever learned about writing, querying, revising, landing an agent. And here’s the thing…You won’t just be learning from me and from the other students in the class…You’ll be learning from some amazing industry pros!

Check out these STELLAR SPECIAL GUESTS!
GWEN HAYES lives in the Pacific Northwest with her real life hero, their children, and the pets that own them. She writes stories for teen and adult readers about love, angst, and saving the world. Gwen’s first novel, Falling Under, was released in March of 2011 by NAL/Penguin and followed up by the sequel, Dreaming Awake, in January of 2012. She is represented by Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. You can find her at http://www.gwenhayes.com/

Gwen will be sharing her expertise in creating chemistry between characters!

Jeff Hirsch is originally from the suburbs just south of Richmond, VA. Growing up, he always knew he wanted to do something artistic but it wasn’t until he started writing poetry and short stories in Junior High that something really stuck. Jeff  graduated from the University of California, San Diego, with an MFA in Dramatic Writing and is the author of The Eleventh Plague and Magisterium (Scholastic).  He lives in Beacon, New York, with his wife. Visit him online at www.jeff-hirsch.com.

Jeff will wow us with his expert skills in writing taut action with emotional intensity!

Kiera Cass is a graduate of Radford University and currently lives in Blacksburg, Virginia with her family. Her fantasy novel The Siren was self-published in 2009, and The Selection is her young adult debut. Kiera has kissed approximately fourteen boys in her life. None of them were princes. You can keep up with her at http://www.kieracass.com/

Kiera will be Skyping into class to answer all your burning questions about the writers’ journey! (Did you know CW snapped up The Selection, and a pilot is in the works?! You might want to ask her about it.)

Rosemary Clement-Moore is the author of award-winning supernatural mystery novels for young (and not so young) adults, including Texas GothicThe Splendor Falls, and the Maggie Quinn: Girl versus Evil series. Her books have been included on the YALSA list of best books for teens, the New York Public Library’s Books For the Teen Age and Kirkus Reviews best teen books of 2011 and received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal. A recovering thespian with a master’s degree in communication, she now puts her drama queen skills to use writing novels and posting on Twitter. She loves coffee, dogs, history, Jane Austen, archeology, fantasy novels, comic books, Gilbert and Sullivan, BBC America, Star Wars, books with kissing and movies with lots of explosions. You can visit her webpage at www.rosemaryclementmoore.com.
Rosemary will appear (in person!) to teach us all about making magic on the page–creating rich narratives that sing with romance and  crackle with adventure.

Sara Crowe  is an agent at Harvey Klinger, Inc. where she represents adult fiction and nonfiction and children’s fiction. Her clients include NYT Bestselling author Jonathan Maberry, Nina LaCour, Michael Northrop, Lisa Schroeder, Kristen Tracy, and Dan Wells. Her authors have been nominated for Edgars and the Morris Award and have been on the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults list and in the Top Ten. She is consistently ranked among the top three YA agents in Publishers Marketplace. You can check out her submission guidelines at http://saracrowe.com

Lucky for me, Sara is my own (WONDERFUL!) agent.  She’ll be chiming in to offer advice and answer all your burning questions about agents and the industry in general.

In case I hadn’t mentioned it yet, I CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS CLASS!  https://www.uta.edu/wconnect/CourseStatus.awp?~~12CO1722001

My library is hosting a book fair this week, so Middle Grade books are on my brain in a big way! Here are some newly discovered titles paired with old favorites.

Historical Gems:

Jennifer Arena at Random House (psst…she’s such a lovely fellow bookworm.) introduced me to CROW by Barbara Wright. The narrator, 11-year-old Moses, brings us into his turn of the century world. In 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina, the legacy of Jim Crow is alive and well. One generation from slavery, a thriving black community struggles to maintain hard-won liberty, and Moses’ family is caught up in a firestorm of prejudice and hate. You’ll fall in love with the authentic voice and realistic characters.

CROW is an excellent companion to ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY by Mildred B. Taylor. Set in the 1930’s, the novel chronicles the Logan family’s fight to hold onto inherited land and personal dignity. This Newbery winner is a storm of its own, a thunderclap of fierce, emotional storytelling.

Books with Heart:

WONDER, by RJ Palacio, is a tremendous debut, a novel that coaxes out grins even as it wrings out tears. Auggie, the fifth grade protagonist is different–his face is so badly deformed, he spends much of his preschool years hiding under a toy astronaut helmet. When he starts attending school for the first time, he makes enemies and friends, enduring the worst kind of taunts and enjoying the best kinds of friendships.

WONDER is Auggie’s story, but it’s also ours. The novel captures the dual nature of childhood, both how cruel and how tender we can be with one another. It’s about the wounds we inflict and the scars we carry, all the things that teach us to do things differently the next time.

WONDER pairs *wonderfully* with FREAK THE MIGHTY by Rodman Philbrick. Philbrick’s singular voice breathes life into an unforgettable story. Max and Kevin are two different types of young outcasts, a hulking loner and disabled genius, who forge an incredible, life-altering bond–a friendship that carries them through adventure and heartbreak.

Magical Reads:

Happenstance brings this last pair-up. I had the good fortune to meet Meaghan Finnerty, a Sterling rep, at ALA Midwinter. When I asked her to recommend a book, she pressed HORTEN’S MIRACULOUS MECHANISMS (by Lissa Evans) into my hands. And I’m so glad she did!

When Stuart Horten (S. Horten) moves with his family to his father’s old stomping ground, the gears of an old family legacy spin and click, sending Stuart on a quest to puzzle out clues left by his ancestor, a mysterious magician.Combine apathetic parents, curious neighbor kids, enchanted coins and a little hocus pocus…and you’ve got a winsome, all ages read.

I loved the humor and quirk of Evan’s voice. Her fabulous book reminded of me of another whimsical favorite, THE WILLOUGHBYS by Lois Lowry. When an unconventional nanny comes to scold/nurture/rescue the abandoned Willoughby kids, a rollicking journey begins. Tim, Jane, Barnaby A and Barnaby B find their own happy endings, making fantastic discoveries all along the way. THE WILLOUGHBYS rates high on my all-time favorites list, right up there with CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY by Roald Dahl.

Hungry for More?

If you enjoyed these unconventional reads, you might also devour these one-of-a-kind treats, Compost Cookies based on the Momofuku Milk Bar recipe.

Binge!

My friend, the inimitable, awesome A. Lee Martinez, has a book coming out March 5th! In honor of Emperor Mollusk Vs. The Sinister Brain, I’m hosting an interview (you gotta check out what he has to say about humor and universal themes, guys.) and an EPIC FOUR BOOK PRIZE PACK GIVEAWAY!

Um, did I mention that each of the books is autographed and each one has a different, original sketch with the signature?! So cool.

All you gotta do to enter is read and leave a comment/additional question. Enter by midnight,  Thursday, March 1st.  Coolest comment/question wins. 

Interview:

1. I’m always glad to get a sneak peek of your pages at DFW Writers’ Workshop. For everyone else, can you share a little bit about your latest, Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain?

 It’s a story of a great supervillain (who happens to be a squid from Neptune) and what happens after he decides he’s not so happy being a bad guy anymore.  He’s not exactly seeking redemption, but he’s not interested in doing the villain thing either.  The only problem is that he’s basically too amazing to not be in the center of some sort of grand adventure, and since he lives in a universe where adventure is found in every corner, that means retirement isn’t easy.

Ultimately, it’s a novel in the tradition of pulp sci fi / fantasy.  Emperor lives in a reality where every planet in our solar system is inhabited, where lost civilizations are a dime a dozen, and where everything he does is important.  He’s Doc Savage, John Carter, or any number of larger-than-life protagonists who rule their stories through virtue of being incredible and absurd ideals.  In Mollusk’s case, he’s smarter than you, and he knows it.  If Lex Luthor came from Neptune and had no Superman to stand in his way, he’d be Emperor Mollusk.

So on one level, the story is about mutant dinosaurs and giant robot fights.  And on the other, it’s about the struggle that we all have to deal with, about figuring out our place in this universe, learning to live with our mistakes, and hopefully, not repeating them.  Except Emperor’s mistakes can blow up planets, so there’s extra pressure right from the get go.

2. It’s no secret that I’ve nicknamed you ‘Existential Loki’ because you write books with heft, heart and wit. You’ve mentioned before that humor is underrated in storytelling. Care to elaborate?

Maybe not humor specifically, but just fun in general.  There’s this tendency, probably as old as time, to assume that if a story isn’t Serious Business, then it’s just silly and slight.  We have always seen humor as an escape mechanism, something it often is, but we also tend to think of it as unimportant or easy.  It’s absurd.  I think drama is great, but it doesn’t have to equal melodrama.  A story can make you smile, have weird elements, and still have some emotional heft.

To put it one way:  If a story is about a protagonist’s personal growth as he becomes a better person, that’s generally considered light.  If a story is about a protagonist’s personal growth, but then he gets run over by a car, that’s generally considered deep.  And I’ve just never gotten that.  I don’t need characters to die or tragedy to be invested in something.  It’s an artificial paradigm that I reject.  Of course, I write books about robot detectives and space squids, so my opinion probably doesn’t count.

3. In your books, you explore universal themes in new, thought provoking ways. What core ideas spark your imagination, time and again?

First of all, thanks for that.

I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but most of my stories revolve around an outsider who is trying to live his or her life the best way they can.  I think that is something we can all relate to.  We all feel like outsiders now and then, strangers in a strange world.  My characters vary, but with rare exception, they are usually good people who end up in odd situations where the rules as they know them no longer apply.  And then they swim upstream, hoping to make sense of it.  If they’re lucky, they sometimes even find a place in the world.  But regardless, it’s all about living our lives without screwing up too badly and hopefully, helping each other along the way.

It’s not a new theme, but I’d like to think I can bring something new to the table now and then.

 4. What inspired you to become a writer and how did you get started?

 I was inspired by my lack of desire to do anything else.  I wasn’t “driven” to write stories like most people who start writing seem to claim.  I wasn’t certain what else to do with my life, and it seemed like a cool job to pursue.  I did consider art, and as technology has made being an artist easier, I might have even gone into that instead.  But at the time, I felt I was a better writer than artist.  I still think that’s true, but then again, who knows how I might have progressed as an artist if I’d put my energy into it?

 I started by writing novels and sending them out.  In the beginning, I had a very specific schedule.  I’d write for two to three hours a day, finish a novel in six to eight months, and submit with wild abandon.  I was fortunate enough to have Mom as a beta reader (and great source of moral and financial support to boot), and it helped me to figure a lot of things out.  And then I found the DFW Writer’s Workshop (completely by accident since the internet was mostly a rumor at that point) and got even more guidance.  It took a long time, but with a lot of help, I managed to get my break.  The rest, as they say, is history.

 5. I know you read a lot of non-fiction. Can you recommend something you’ve read lately?

Reality is Broken by Jane McGonical is a great book about video games versus reality and how reality could learn a few things from video games.  I love games of all sorts, so it has a great appeal to me.

I’m also enjoying That is All by John Hodgman, though I’m not sure that qualifies as non-fiction.  Still, a very funny book.

6. Who is your favorite fictional hero? Why? 

If I have to pick one, I’d probably go with Tarzan.  There is something about him.  He’s an outsider who is always viewing the world from a different perspective, and he’s also intelligent and formidable.  He fights lions and dinosaurs and LOVES to read, which is something that gets overlooked a lot in most media.

 7. Last Question. Finish this sentence: “I wish more people…”

…would buy my books.

 (Ha, I knew you would lead off with that, A. Lee.)

Just kidding.  Actually, no I’m not.  I do wish that.

But if I have to create a non-selfish wish, I’d have to say I wish more people would try harder to accept each other.  I don’t mean “understand” each other.  I mean just relax and stop hassling the other guy.  We don’t need to understand each other.  We just need to accept that people are going to be different, and that’s cool.  I don’t know why anyone wears dresses or watches reality TV.  But I don’t have to get it to respect their rights to do so.  We waste a lot of energy trying to convince people who don’t like us that we are worth liking, and for the most part, it falls on deaf ears.  It’s also exhausting.

 We do love to fight over our weird choices and strange habits, even while wondering why no one gets our own choices and habits.  Just imagine how much we could accomplish if we dropped all that busy work.

We’d have more time to read books about evil geniuses from Neptune, for one.

Shoot me a comment or question to win this AUTOGRAPHED PILE OF GREATNESS! You’ll get a whole library of A. Lee’s books!