Book Review: The Royal Treatment by Lindsey Leavitt

Synopsis: Desi has been promoted to a level-two sub in her princess gig. She had to give up her job at the pet store to train in all things royal –not exactly a hardship- but now school has started and she’s gotten a role in the local play, so balancing everything has gotten a little dicey. Not to mention the fact that Façade seems to be stealing magic…

Cover: This novel retains the same aura of the previous in this series by keeping the compact and glitter while including some jewellery in the foreground. While this image is less cluttered, adding a girl into the compact mirror detracted from the “every girl” theme of the first.

Plot: Desi has moved on and up in the princess substitute program and with it has been given more responsibility. Not only will she get more intricate princess replacement jobs, but she has also been asked to be a “watcher” thus making this storyline differ from the first book of the series.

Character Development: With great power comes great responsibility, and Desi wants to continue using her Magic Potential (MP) for the greater good. Desi begins her quest for self-enlightenment (aka discovering what allows her to tap into her magic) and behaves in a way that seems a little too mature for a thirteen-year-old.

Romance: Desi is thrown together with Reed, the boy her best-friend likes, when they are cast opposite each other in a play. Sparks fly –and not always in a good way- between these two. While preparing for the play, Desi gets a princess job as the girlfriend that puts her in the vicinity of her prince-crush. But the more she gets to know him, the more she realizes how much she doesn’t know anything at all.

Memorable Moment: Get ready for a fairy-fight when two magical agents go drama-queen and have at each other, thus making a teenager seem far more responsible than her superiors.

Quote: The kiss was only a couple of seconds, but I felt like I’d been flipped over and smacked in the face with a rainbow.

The Verdict: While the first book was cute, by the second the series begins to grow on you even though it too is a little predictable at times. Where the last novel was a little Princess Diaries mixed with a touch Ella Enchanted, this novel upped the anti with an essence of Princess Protection Program… but what can you expect from a Disney-Hyperion publication? I am actually looking forward to seeing what might happen next.

 Previous Reviews: The Ship of Lost SoulsHelp Me! The Emerald Atlas, Princess for Hire

Writerly Questions with Avery Olive

As I promised in the post with Avery Olive’s Guest Post, I am now sharing with you a few questions that will give an additional peak into the world of writers. Instead of learning the lingo as we already saw, this time Avery lets us see into her own little world as a writer. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us, Avery! 

Be sure to check out other bloggers who are taking part in A Stiff Kiss tour (published by Crescent Moon Press) which you can find out more about here

How would you summarize your book in one sentence?A reverse sleeping beauty with twists.

How long did it take you to write this book?I spent three months (on and off) writing A Stiff Kiss, and another 3 months polishing it.

How many drafts do you go through?
 Hmm. I’d say it went through about five, two of those were all me, editing and then I sent it off to a few beta’s and let them pick it apart.

When do you write best: in the morning, afternoon, or at night? So far, I write best a night. Mostly because the demands of being a stay at home mom allow little time to write during the day. I stay up late, and live on probably far too little sleep.

Where is your favorite place to write?I have an office, it’s constantly cluttered, but it’s my own space, where I can sit back, listen to music and get things done.

Typewriter, laptop, or pen & paper?I have me a baby laptop. It’s small, it fits into my purse. But I also pretty much always have a pen and paper within reach, just in case I don’t have my computer.

What do you drink or eat while you write?I drink coffee when I need an energy boost. And I also chew copious amounts of gum.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind? Yes, I do. Though I don’t have a specific variety. My iPhone holds a bit of everything from 60’s tunes, to classic rock, to Top 40 Hit’s, to a little country. They only thing that isn’t on there, classical—That puts me to sleep.

What do you wear when you write? Whatever I happen to be wearing when I decide to write. Could be the days outfit, a comfy pair of PJ’s and fuzzy socks, a towel if I’ve hopped out of the shower brimming with inspiration..

How do you plot? Chapter by chapter or an overall synopsis? Do you use detailed outlines? Plot? Outlines? What’s that? I’m a pantser baby. I jot down a simple burb type paragraph and run with it. The only thing that’s get’s more attention are my characters—I do a detailed description and trait outline for them.

How do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?This is a tougher one. I usually just start writing. Eventually somewhere usually about 5 chapters in, I can tell if I’m on the right track. If it feels wrong, or I’m not able to express enough of what’s happening I switch POV’s. Though, I must admit I am rather fond of First Person Present Tense. Which I’m sure has some of you out there in cyber-land cringing. But if you can pull it off, it works

How do you choose your characters’ names?Baby name books, or a list of names that I add to every time I hear something I like. Last names I usually make symbolic, either on a personal level or that has something to do with the story-line and characters

Who is the first person who gets to read your manuscript?Usually it’s my bestest writerly friend, Mr. Steven W. He’s stuck with me over the years, I love what he says, and since he’s awesome, he also almost always ends up teaching me something

What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time? I didn’t do anything. I think I was in shock. And then I went about life pretty much the same, just a little lighter on my feet. I did decide then to come out of the closest and tell people I’d been writing novels for the last few years and that now I was going to be published. My friends and family were just as shocked to hear that, as I was when I got contract offers for my novel A Stiff Kiss

What is the first book you remember reading?The Balloon Tree by Phoebe Gilman. I remember taking it out of my elementary library over and over again. It’s also still around and quite popular, not long ago they came out with a very nice Anniversary Edition

Do you have a guilty pleasure read?No! But man I should! I did for a bit go through a Twilight Fanfiction phase. So at the time, that was sort of it. I’ve since moved passed that. I might need to pick up another one, though

How do you organize your library/book collection? Well, I currently abuse my books by piling them into boxes. They don’t like it, I hear them whimper every time I add another to the pile, or close up the box and start a new one. I don’t have book shelves. And at least they have other books to play within the boxes. One day Mr. Olive and I will have a library of our own

Did you always want to be a writer?For a lot of years the thought never crossed my mind. I used to write poetry, so I’d always had a passion for words. But when it came to actually thinking about it, I always thought it was a dream that was unattainable

If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask/talk about?Edgar Allan Poe. I’d wonder if he was really as messed up as history says he was, and well, how he wrote such amazingly, dark words

If you could be any character from any book, who would you be? I honestly don’t know. Perhaps, Princess Buttercup from the Princess Bride. I’ve always loved that book (and the movie) and having someone say “As you wish,” to everything, well that’s just hot

What is the best gift someone could give a writer? Peace and Quiet. Okay, I’d say a laptop, honestly you can get so much done with it, keep things organized, do research on the web, network… I honestly don’t know where I’d be without mine

What is the best advice someone could give a writer? Keep writing and don’t give up. Every day more and more people are finding their way through the maze that is the writing world, so it’s not out of your reach if you want it bad enough

What is one random thing most people don’t know about you? I have two different sized feet. And I’m not talking like a little difference, it’s more than a full shoe size difference, so I can never find heels that work.

 Previous Interviews: JLA Interview, Guest Post Avery Olive

Guest Post by Avery Olive

It was just one month ago that an author was brought to my attention by the name of Avery Olive. Her new novel A Stiff Kiss has recently been published by Crescent Moon Press and is currently doing a blog tour (details here). Avery graciously agreed to write a guest post, and also sit down for an interview as well. Those writerly questions will be posted at noon today, so be sure to check back! 

So without further ado, here is  what Avery believes every writer ought to know.  

I’ve been thinking about what to share with people. It’s been hard, because I don’t claim to be an expert and I wanted to come up with something useful. Since there are a lot of aspiring writers out there, and the fact that I’ve just come out of the writing closet with my friends and family, I’ve realized writers truly do have their own Lingo.

I talk to Mr. Olive, or my family and friends, I watch their eyebrows raise when I say something about the business and sometimes their faces become blank. I’m forced to retrace my steps and figure out what I said that they didn’t understand—And it’s always the lingo.

So why not have a post explaining some of the most important writerly lingo? This way, for the new and aspiring authors, they can learn it, and also for the people who stop by a blog, where a writer is going on about something and instead of drawing a blank with the mixed in words, they’ll know too. I remember being new once, looking at blogs and writing forums and wondering WTF are they talking about? It was hard, I didn’t want to just ask and seem “green”, but I also wanted—needed to know how to fit in.

The first one that I know seems silly, and is easy for some to understand is WIP. Often writers of all shapes and sizes, use this term. Simply put, it means Work In Progress—what the writer is, of course, currently working on. It’s your MS before it’s complete.

When people told me I have to Query agents, I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand what a Query Letter was. This might be the most dreadful, nerve wracking letter you will ever write. It’s what you send agents to see if they want to read your work, and possibly represent you. It has to engage them, summarize your novel in a back-cover-type blurb, and it has to tell the agent about the author.

A query letter also tends to have a Log-Line. This is a very catchy one sentence summarization of your novel, and it usually hooks the reader or the agent. They often times adorn the covers of novels, the swag that’s handed out or is plastered on the Authors website to catch attention.

But a Query often ends up in the Slush Pile, log line and all. And no, it has nothing to do with those cold, icy drinks you buy at the convenience store. This is where a query,  and if you are sending your work to Publishers, ends up. It’s a pile full of usually un-agented, unsolicited letters that needs to be filtered. Someone will sit down and read each letter and decide if it needs to be rejected or passed on to the next person in line, either an agent or acquisitions editor.

Sometimes, though, a Query—if sent by mail needs to be accompanied by a SASE. I felt dumb when I went to my post office and asked if they could give me a SASE. Because all it means is Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope. Nothing special, and nothing you need your post-office to give you.

However, before you even think about querying an agent, sending along your self addressed envelope and ending up in the slush pile, you have to make sure your WIP is polished. To do this, writers often send their edited-to-the-best-of-their-abilities manuscript to Beta Readers or Critique Partners.

These two terms are almost—almost— the same, but not quite. A Beta Reader tends to be someone the Author doesn’t know but has enlisted their help to help polish their work. Sometimes beta readers aren’t even writers themselves. It’s a way to gain more perspective from unbiased people.

A Critique Partner tends to be someone you’ve developed a relationship with over time, you talk about the plotting, the setting, they will answer your 3am call when you realize your entire novel needs to be shifted from 1st person to 3rd. And will talk you down from a ledge. And of course, read your work, and help you polish it further.

Most author’s aspire to be published by one of the “Big 6.” These are the big guys, they are the six biggest, most influential publishers on the block—but depending on what you desire to achieve they may not be the best fit for you (that’s all personal preference). They are—in no particular order: Penguin Group, Harper Collins, Random House, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan,  and Simon & Schuster.

Before you dream about the Big 6 though, you need to write that novel! So, are you a Pantser? Because I am.  Okay, let me clear this up right away—it has nothing to do with that high school prank.  A Pantser is someone who writes by the seat of their pants, usually not bothering to outline, plot, or well, do anything. An idea pops into their heads and they just run with it.

Some of my best friends are Plotters though, they like to “waste” time planning out their entire novel before ever putting pen to paper. They need to see the lines of threads that connect each event and character together. They need the synopsis, those climax chunks, heavily thought out character descriptions and traits—Good for them! I wish I had the patience for that.

But wait you say! You’ve said things, not in bold that I don’t understand! Agent’s and blurbs, and swag, and MS’s—oh my!

An Agent, similar to a casting agent, or sports agent, is a person that represents you as an Author and your work. They get you into doors that you might not otherwise be able to open yourself.

A Blurb is what you find on the backs of books, those little morsels of goodness that summarize a novel, leaving you begging for more, WITHOUT giving away the ending.

Swag is the fun stuff Authors giveaway during contests, conventions and are sweet to collect. They are usually signed bookmarks, posters, key-chains, really anything with the Authors name, info and anything pertinent. They are the super fun kind of “business card”.

And, well, an MS, is your manuscript, sometimes it’s solicited—an agent or editor has asked to see it— and sometimes it’s unsolicited, where you’ve tossed it into the slush pile and are hoping for the best.

Now, sadly, this only breaches a small part of the lingo that surrounds authors on a day to day basis. If I could, I’d probably be able to go on forever! My best advice is to just ask—ask if you see a word you don’t understand, and learn them as best you can. They are important, and can make the difference between right and wrong. You don’t want to be standing in the slush pile naked, do you?

– Avery

 Previous Guest Posts: Nancy Volkers,  Guest Lisa BeckerGuest2 Nancy Volkers

Teaser Tuesday (Mar-5)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Should Be Reading. Share the title and author, so others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences.

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!!!

The Royal Treatment by Lindsey Leavitt

Except I knew it wasn’t technological, but technomagical. 

The styles then were not particularly masculine, and so it was far from attractive to see Gavin in his ghastly knickers (with BOWS), his chest puffed out as he pranced around the floor.

 Staring someone down doesn’t get you understood. It gets you slapped.

 Previous Teasers:Feb-4Mar-2Mar-3

Book Review: Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt

Synopsis: Desi’s life is a mess. Her friends have turned on her, her crush can’t remember her name, her job forces her to dress as a giant rodent, and her parents don’t understand her.  All Desi wants is to stop feeling invisible and start making an impact, so when a woman arrives in a bubble and offers Desi a job as a substitute princess she jumps at the chance. Okay, she screams first –who wouldn’t?-  and then begins her new life of filling in for royals when they need a secret vacation. But who knew being a princess could be so hard?

Hook: Who wouldn’t want a fairy-godmother type saying you have inherent magic in your being and asking if you would like to be princess for a day?

Plot: Desi’s life as a regular girl is predictable, but once she steps into another princess’s shoes you wonder what situation she’ll land in next. Once the reader understands the issue at hand, Desi does the expected when trying to improve her princess’s lives.

Location: Desi’s hometown is Idaho, but as a princess replacement she gets to travel all over the world, from Amazon jungles to Las Vegas to France.

Theme: This moral lying not so quietly below the surface is about female empowerment and self-actualization. It gives the reader a lesson that anyone can make a positive difference in other people’s life and to always be yourself.

Character: Meredith isn’t exactly the regular fairy–godmother type, but since she is actually an agent for princess that’s hardly surprising. She comes off as uncaring and impatient, but that’s just because she’s trying to help the princesses get ahead in the business and learn life-lessons.

Romance: Desi has a crush on a boy who is the stereotypical dumb jock who dates the most popular girl at school. She is blinded by his looks and fails to see his personality isn’t what she believes it to be even though he treats her badly. As a sub Desi begins to have a crush on the same prince the princess she is replacing likes, but that situation is mimicked by her real life and provides the new boy in town as a possible crush-replacement.

Character Development: Desi has a tendency toward invisibility when her ex-best friend isn’t busy humiliating her.  She has little self-confidence and cries easily, making her a prime target. As a princess substitute she does all the things she wishes she had the nerve to achieve in her own life, and knows it will help the princesses who feel just like her. In doing this, Desi begins to gain confidence and discovers her own worth.

Point of Interest: In the book, a shirt one of the characters is wearing says “Floccinaucinihilipilification” which is apparently the longest real word in the English language and apparently means to estimate something to be worthless.

Quote: Maybe that’s what made them fairy tales. Real life is never how you dreamed it.

The Verdict: The tone of the book is on par with someone quite young, with a protagonist who is only thirteen. This isn’t particularly the sort of book I would read at that age, and is perhaps better suited for someone a couple years younger. It is a cute book, and would be something a mother and daughter could read together as it is reminiscent of a cross between Princess Diaries and Ella Enchanted.

 Previous Reviews: The Ship of Lost SoulsHelp Me! The Emerald Atlas

WWW Wednesday (Mar-4)

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading.  All you have to do is answer these 3 questions: 

1. What are you currently reading?

2. What did you recently finish reading?

3. What do you think you’ll read next?

I am reading “Epic Fail” by Claire LaZebnik
I am finished reading “Utterly Charming” by Kristine Grayson
I am next reading “Dearly Departed” by Lia Habel

 Previous WWW: Feb-2Feb-3Feb-4Mar-3

Book Review: Angelina’s Secret by Lisa Rogers

Synopsis: Angelina Cartwright believes her dreams are premonitions of the future, but she didn’t know it was really ghosts trying to contact her. When Angel’s childhood imaginary friend reappears telling her she has the gift of seeing the deceased, Angel decides to tell her family the truth. Unfortunately, that lands her in a psychiatric hospital with little hope of ever getting home…

Author: Lisa Rogers previously worked in medicine, until deciding to follow her dream of becoming an author. With her children grown, Lisa now researches paranormal phenomena and dedicates much her time towards writing novels.

Point of View: The story is told in third-person, but for the most part follows Angel through school, her home life, and eventually her stay in the mental hospital. There are the occasional scenes that focus on various members of the Cartwright family, but even those revolve around their reaction to Angel’s secret.

 Pacing: The action of this book is more mental/internal, as it is about a girl who can talk to ghosts. It manages to keep the reader on the edge of their seats with the fear that Angel will get caught “talking to herself” and thus be committed to the west wing of the psychiatric ward. What would normally be an inner monologue of the main character; in this book it becomes a dialogue between Angel and her ghosts.

Theme: This novel has an underlying moral about what it is to be a family. Most parents tell their children to come to them about anything, but when Angel tries her parents refuse to listen. Even after being diagnosed as insane, Angel never tries to stop getting her parents to believe in her.

Character: Sam is the big brother every girl wants, but is rarely seen outside of books and television. Sam and Angel have a close relationship, because he is protective, supportive, and has faith in her. Sam is also more open-minded to the possibilities, and never hesitates to be there whenever Angel needs him.

Character Development: Normally it is the main character who shows development throughout the novel, but Angel is the one who remains the same while everyone else changes around her. What develops in this story is the sense of family as the Cartwrights struggle to accept Angel for who she is.

Personal Thoughts: This story makes you question what it is to be insane.  In this novel a teenager talking to ghosts doesn’t seem so unusual, even though it causes her to be committed, because -other than her not knowing who is alive and who is deceased- Angel seems completely normal. On the flip side you question the sanity and morality of those working in the mental hospital as they consider crying a sign of deep-psychosis, even though your family just had you committed.

Quote: Whatever happened to honestly being the best policy, anyway? Apparently all honesty does for a body is get you thrown into the nuthouse.

The Verdict: I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to like this book as the topic was of a teenager who sent to a psychiatric hospital, but it exceeded my expectations.  While the subject is a rather serious one, the antics of the ghosts add plenty of humour to the situation, and Angel never gives up hope.

Question: If someone told you they could converse with ghosts, what would you do? 

 Previous Posts:   Teaser, Waiting