Friday, May 27, 2011

Answering your questions (Promo Friday!)

Hey loyal followers and fellow readers!

Today is my day to promote myself (yay!) Yes, it makes me sound like a hooker, I know.

Anyway, this is short and sweet. There are 3 discussions of my book on Amazon right now, PLEASE participate if you have a second. You do NOT have to have read the book to participate. You might find something interesting, or it might answer a question you already have.

If you'd like to ask the author anything (that's me), I have a thread where I answer questions, just click HERE. You can ask anything.

Here's a thread started by someone who read the book, so it contains spoilers, but if you've read or are reading the book you can answer his questions or make comments or ask questions.

And here's just someone who I think liked the idea.

All you ever-inquisitive minds, check out one of the threads and just say hi or ask a question. I'd really appreciate it!

Okay, no more promoting myself! Thanks to anyone who comments or questions! You guys rock.

Lena

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When I give a five-star rating.

Since I've been doing book reviews on here, and will continue to do so occasionally, I thought I'd shed some light on my process. Although it might seem I give extremely high ratings, I don't. However, I only post book reviews for books I love and would recommend. My other, not-so-good book reviews, stay on Goodreads. If you really want to read them, you can. But I'd rather only share and encourage the reading of great books, not talk about the ones I hated.

I hardly ever give 5-star ratings. Maybe my top 10 books of all time, and that's about it. To me, five stars means the book is perfect and I can't think of one thing wrong with it. And that's a hard thing to find!

My criteria (I think): 1. It definitely has to stay with me for a long time, not just what happened but the feeling I got when I read it has to come back, even years later.

2. Also, it has to be well-written. I admit, I'm a book snob. I can hardly read books that aren't well written, even if everyone loves them. Bad writing is a deal breaker, no matter if the writer is #1 Best Seller for ten years in a row. I majored in English and read tons of books on writing, so I can smell bad writing from a mile away. Also, beautiful writing that takes my breath away, gives me goosebumps, makes me shiver, whatever, has to be done in a subtle way, not in-your-face gross-out or steamy love scenes (those are for fun, not 5-stars.)

3. The last thing is, everything has to be vivid. I dont have to love the characters, but I have to believe them and feel I know them. I have to see the setting, the world, the people without being bogged down by flowery paragraph-long description. I have to feel the emotion, smell the smells, hear what they hear, ache when they ache.

It's a tough bill, but I'm a tough reader.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Life According to James Blunt (Music Monday!)

Okay, this is just a silly something I found one time, but I like it!

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Try not to repeat a song title. It's a lot harder than you think! Repost as 'my life according to (band name)'"

Pick Your Artist: James Blunt

Are you a male or female: I’ll be your man

Describe yourself: I’ll Take Everything

How do you feel: Out of my Mind

How do people feel about you: Give me Some Love

Describe where you currently live: I can’t hear the music

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: 1973

What would you ask for if you had just one wish: I Really Want You

What’s your greatest fear? If Time is All I Have

Your favorite form of transportation: Carry You Home

Your best friend? Billy/Annie

You and your best friends are: High

Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriend/lover: So Far Gone

Describe your current boyfriend/girlfriend/lover: Same Mistake

How do you live: Best Laid Plans

How do you love: Calling out your Name

What's the weather like? Tears and Rain

Favorite time of day: Stay the Night

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called: These are the Words

Now say goodbye: Goodbye My Lover

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Contest Results!

Hi all!

My contest for an advanced hardcopy of The Superiors is closing. LittlePinkStars won by a landslide! Please email or message me with your address and I will send you the ARC. I just got them in yesterday.

I've gained many new followers this week, and I've tried to follow everyone back. If I didnt follow you, please comment on this post and I'll follow your blog if you have one. I hope you enjoy my blog and check back now and then. Thanks for following me and I hope you enjoy my blogs!

Lena

Friday, May 20, 2011

E-books outsell "Real" books on Amazon

I heard this morning that for the first time, e-books have outsold paper copies on Amazon. They now sell 105 ebooks per 100 traditional books. Some of these e-books are self-published indies like me, but most are still traditionally published books available through the regular channels and wide distribution.

However, I think all this will be changing. You can get the Kindle App FREE everywhere--smart phones, laptops, e-readers. It's so easy you can get it and buy a book and read it w/o ever leaving your comfy chair. And that's something all Americans love! I, the lover of turning pages and holding and even smelling real books, downloaded the free Kindle app last night to help in promoting my book. The time is near, my dears. I will never give up my hardbacks, but I have succumbed to Kindle fever (which has now surpassed scarlet fever and Beiber Fever as the most recent ailment sweeping the nation).

What this all means is still to be seen. Will traditional ebooks get cheaper to compete with all us shamefully low-priced self-published books? Maybe. Will tons of self-published, poorly written, unedited books get put out in ebook form? Undoubtedly. Will it be harder for readers to find good stuff amidst the slush? For sure. But at least everyone has a shot now, and that's a little more fair than it's been in the past.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

House of the Scorpion (Book Review Tuesday!)

The House of the ScorpionThe House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is quite possibly my favorite science fiction type book of all time. I'm not sure I'd really classify it as sci-fi or young adult, although it is shelved that way. The characters are young people but the themes are universal. Setting is futuristic, post-apocalyptic maybe, or at least post modern.

The book deals with cloning humans, something I've also written about with admittedly less grace. Although the topic makes this book science fiction, it read more like urban fantasy. The characters live in what is present-day Mexico, which has become a kind of opium kingdom. The main character in the book is the clone of a powerful opium lord. He is sheltered until the outside world invades his content, secluded little bubble. As he begins to venture into the world, secrets about his identity become apparent--as well as about his intended purpose.

This book was a chilling, suspenseful, gripping read, without giving in to gimmicky tactics or losing its literary brilliance. I can't think of many other books or authors that deal with important subjects in such an effective way. It is well written (which counts for a lot to my critical eye), it has great plotting and believable, loveable characters who you can't help but root for every second. It has action, and wonderfully done suspense that keeps building throughout the book and never lets you go, but never goes over the top. Descriptions are vivid but never dull, always advancing the plot at a steady pace. The pacing of the entire book is wonderful. I rarely read a book that manages to be gripping and literary at the same time, but Nancy Farmer succeeds with this one. It is one of my favorite books of all time. I highly recommend the audio version if you like audiobooks--the reader does a great job.

View all my reviews

Monday, May 16, 2011

FREE advanced hardcopy of The Superiors (CONTEST)

Okay, well, here's the deal. I got 2 advanced copies of The Superiors, and I only need one for review. So I'm having my first ever blog contest!

You can win a paperback copy of my book before anyone else gets their hands on it. Lucky you! :P

So how do you win? I'm glad you asked. I'm trying to get more blog followers. So whoever gets the most people to follow my blog wins. So tell your friends to click on the link to this post and leave YOUR name in the comments (that's how I know who got them to follow). They also have to follow my blog, not just comment. And yes, I'll check!

So...if Sunny Susan tells Joe Blow to follow my blog, he should click 'follow' and write 'Sunny Susan' in the comments below. That's it. You dont have to like my book, pay for it, review it, or tell anyone about it (although of course you're free to do all those things and I'll love you extra if you do).

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Road

The RoadThe Road by Cormac McCarthy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've read a lot of McCarthy's southwestern books, but this was my favorite of his works. He can write a sentence that goes on for paragraphs without losing the reader (I don't recommend anyone else try it). This book was so disturbing, and yet so poignant and beautiful it took my breath away. It's grim, and gritty, and dark, depressing... I literally had to stop reading a few times when it got so intense that it overwhelmed me. Surprising to say that about a book in which nothing at all happens except for walking down a post-apocalypic road (or post nuclear fallout?). There are scenes that made me want to vomit, and scream, and shudder for days. I still remember this book with amazing clarity even though I read it several years ago.

Despite the bleak atmosphere, the book is one of the most well-crafted and well-written I've read in a long, long, long time (yes, it does require three 'longs'). The imagery and setting are so clear that I felt like I was IN the book, that world, that cold and bleak nothingness that fills the book with such pervasive gloom. I can't begin to explain how affecting this book is. It is definitely not for the faint of heart, but I can't think of one guy I know who wouldn't love this book (and some girls, too, of course, although it's a very masculine read). It is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. And I've read a lot.

View all my reviews

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Week in Books

Currently Reading: Walking the Rez Road

So, my ebook has been on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords for a week. Although for 2 days it was under construction. I've sold six books, which is pretty cool, although comparatively, it's pretty horrible. But I wasn't expecting big things, so I'm happy with it. I'm never gonna be one of those people who is great at self promotion, although I'd like to sell enough to pay for all the money I spent getting it out there. I guess it's like a business investment.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for AlgernonFlowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of my favorite books of all time. I loved everything about it, from the beginning quote to the end. It was sad, haunting, touching, and at times hilarious. Watching the main character's slow yet dramatic transformation was captivating. And watching him revert to his former self, but worse for the experience, was heartbreaking. This book made me cry, which is a difficult feat. I could not put it down the whole time I was reading it. To this day I remember this story vividly--it's one that sticks with you forever, I think. It's also very well written, dense, and literary. The way it's written, starting from very simple to more complex, let's you follow the journey the character undergoes. I can't think of one thing wrong with this book.

View all my reviews

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I swear I don't work for Sara Zarr...

But...she is amazing. I recommend her book to any and all who will listen. I'd say I'm her #1 fan if it wasn't totally creepy to say that...but it is...so I'll just say she gets a lot of free publicity from me. And she deserves it, because I'm in love with her voice.

Story of a GirlStory of a Girl by Sara Zarr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, I actually listened to this book on CD, and that might have made me like it more than reading it would have. The audio narrator (I couldnt find the reader, so I assume it's the author?) got the voice so well I was instantly sucked in. Although most of the book's drama takes place before the book starts, I still enjoyed it. The flashbacks were well done. The setting came alive to the point that it was a character in itself. Descriptions were precise and perfect without being lenghty.
I love realistic books, and this is realistic with a razor blade. Sara Zarr doesn's sugar coat anything in this book. It's raw and real and depressing.
The one complaint I had about the book was that the girl, who seems so apathetic at times and claims to hate crying, ends up bawling her eyes out several times. A lot of times, actually, right in a row. She comes across as very unemotional most of the book. Then she's crying about stupid fights with her friends, etc. Fine, if the character is that type of girl. It wasn't believable to me to have her cry more than once, unless something huge happened, which it didnt. In fact, not a lot happens during this book. But that didnt stop it from being a great read and worth every minute. I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone 16 and up. It's very mature for a YA book.

View all my reviews

Friday, May 6, 2011

I AM LIVE!

That's right. My ebook of THE SUPERIORS went live today. I know I haven't been hyping it up much, so here goes: This is a serious urban fantasy book about a Superior race that takes over the world and raises humans as livestock. Draven, a lower class Superior, can't afford his own human. However, one night he captures a runaway human named Cali. She in turn captures his interest. Although he must return her by law, he vows to purchase her later. Caught in a tangled and dangerous web, Draven struggles to fulfill his quest and purchase Cali at any cost. find the ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Traditional paper book coming soon!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mudfest in May (Day 3)

Sunday the storms hit. We went to lunch at A&R (barbecue) where they gave us so much food I thought I’d explode. But it worked out, because I didn’t have to eat again all day. After the ribs (and Anna claiming she had a meat overdose) we went down to the festival. As we were walking to the park, huge black storm clouds piled up and the river started sloshing around with waves like the ocean and the tornado sirens went off. We got all nostalgic about last year, but not enough to go in and get drenched just in time to have the bands leave the stages because of lightning (Yes, that is exactly what happened last year). We decided to head up Beale and find shelter instead.

Our usual Peabody Place pool hall had closed, so we went down Beale to another bar. We figured it would be packed and we wouldn’t be able to play pool, but it was strangely deserted. Ryan left the festival and came up to hang out, and we played pool and talked about old times, and beat my sister and her fiancé, of course. Actually, Ryan beat them, and I cheered and played defense mostly.

When the storm had mostly passed, we went down to the park. A bunch of bands had cancelled, but we got to hear a little Ziggy Marley since he’d come on really late. Then we convinced Ryan to come to Saving Abel with us. We found an island of grass in the mud and sat on Anna’s poncho and just hung out. It was nice and relaxing, even though Ryan hated Saving Abel. Then I kidnapped him and made him go to Cee Lo Green with us.

Cee Lo was fun, but the sound on the stage was off so I couldn’t really hear the songs very well (sad face). We stayed at the same stage for Sublime, where again the sound was bad. Anna and Brad went to see a different show, and Ryan went in the crowd with his ex, so I hung out with his friend. I got my dance on even though the sound was still so bad I could hardly tell what song Sublime was playing. People got pretty mad that they played mostly new stuff. I didn’t care too much—the plastic mat in front of the stage was wet and all slippery, so dancing was super fun. Plus, everyone started leaving b/c the band wasn’t playing Sublime’s Greatest Hits, so I had a great view for once. I also met a girl who looked just like a tiny version of Zooey Deschanel. She was so cute I wanted to keep her forever. And they played “Badfish” so it was all worth it.

Afterwards, Ryan stayed with me while his friends went back to their car. We waited for Anna and Brad and then we all walked back to the car and left. I had an agonizingly slow drive back in the pouring rain and insane lightning, listened to The Shining, and got home at 6 am. Overall, a big fun mudfest trip. I can’t wait to do it again.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Memphis in May (Day 2)

Saturday morning we awoke at Super Ghetto Motel to the sounds of people yelling at their kids (and their kids yelling back). Did I mention it was an extended stay hotel? So lots of families who most likely lived there were wandering around making themselves at home, smoking on our balcony, and having fights. The room was stiflingly hot, so we’d left the windows open (they only opened about six inches) and the smoke drifted in. I tried to close the window but found someone sitting on our window ledge with his butt wedged in the six-inch opening.

I finally dragged my sister out of bed and we went to meet some friends on Beale Street for lunch. After wandering around and buying almonds, band-aids, and flip-flops at Walgreens—that’s right, I bought my shoes at a pharmacy—we found a place to eat. My sister’s fiancé met us at Silky O’Sullivan’s, where we’d eaten the previous year as well. We got ribs. Oh my wow. They were so tender the meat fell off the bone when I tried to pick it up. I met up with a friend from back home and a few of her friends, too, but they left after lunch to hang out on Beale. My sister, her fiancé, and I went down to Tom Lee Park for some more music. A little rain for a few minutes, but nothing like the torrential, siren-inducing downpour of last year.

The bands were running late and we made it in time to see half the Sick Puppies show. Afterwards, my old friend from Junior High texted me and said they were there, too. We’d pushed up front for Hinder, but thanks to a pink snakeskin cowboy hat waving in front of us, my old friend and his new friends were able to find us. I hadn’t seen him in about fifteen years, so it was crazy to catch up again (Thank you, Facebook, for bringing old friends together haha).

We watched Hinder and they were, well, Hinder. Same as always. I didn’t know most of their new songs, but they played a pretty good mix of old and new, and I knew all the old ones. Then we all went down to Mumford and Sons. We sat on the grass, ate, drank, hung out, etc. Ryan had his uncle and friend with him, and we all chilled and listened to the band, which was awesome.

After Mumford, we went back to the previous stage for Ludacris. Wow. What a madhouse. The stage was surrounded by an ocean of people. I swear I haven’t shrunk since last year, but it seemed like everyone in Memphis this weekend was 6 foot 6! I couldn’t even see the stage. We were far back, and as far as shows go, that was the most disappointing of the weekend. He played about 30 seconds to two minutes of each song. Hard to get your dance on when the songs keep stopping abruptly halfway through. Ryan and one of his friends stuck with us and we worked our way up for Ke$ha, but again, we couldn’t see the stage even though we were close. Part of the time she went up onto a platform, but the rest of the time I could have been listening to a CD, since I couldn’t see her at all. But I was pretty impressed that she didn’t lip-synch and actually sung all her songs. It was a fun show, complete with lots of pervy comments from the guys I was with.

After the show, we all decided to call it a night again, and went home. Since we only had one bed, I was exiled to the smoke-permeated, scratchy, midget couch where I slept with my legs dangling off the side or sticking over the arm. Totally worth it, though. The bad hotel is part of the whole experience. Last year it smelled like Indian food. The year before, the shower wall had hairs clinging to it and the table fell over when I put my purse on it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beale Street Music Festival (Day 1)

So this past weekend was Memphis in May, and I went for the second year in a row and the third time overall. It was awesome! Much better than last year, when many of the bands cancelled because of flooding and the park was evacuated on Saturday night so many other bands didn’t get to play. This year we had two whole days of music before the rain set in.

On Friday, I met up with my sister and we drove the five hours to Memphis. We got to our hotel (Super Ghetto Motel, ask if you need directions). It was really hot but the AC in the room didn’t work. Also, we discovered when we arrived that we had a room with one “full” bed instead of two queens. Oh, well. It was cheap. It smelled like smoke even though it was a non-smoking room, and we soon discovered smoke drifting in through the window while people smoked on the balcony and yelled at their children. Big fun.

We went to the festival and on the way got pulled over by a cop when my sister ran a red light (the sun was RIGHT in our eyes. I have no idea how anyone could see that the light was red). The cop asked us both for ID even though I wasn’t driving. Then he proceeded to ask us what bands we were going to see and then blocked off the intersection so we could make a left turn and get to the parking area we wanted. Why aren’t all cops so helpful?

We went in and caught part of Cake, who I’d seen a few times but was still fun. Then we saw B.o.B, which was WAY awesome and better than I expected. It turned out to be my favorite show of the whole weekend, especially when he started free-styling at the end. Amazing energy, great view, and I loved all the songs, most of which I’d never heard.

I kept trying to hook up with a couple different groups of friends who had also come for the weekend, but I didn’t get hold of any of them. We went to see Stone Temple Pilots, which was a little bit disappointing. They were okay, and they played a lot of old stuff and a lot of new stuff. But it was just meh. Something lacking. Or maybe I just expected SO much because I love them so much, so of course it couldn’t live up to my expectations. We left the park and went to bed ‘early’ that night, which means 1 or 2 a.m. in Memphis in May time.